Three indicted for using dead Kansas Citians’ identities to claim COVID stimulus money

·1 min read

A federal grand jury has indicted three Missouri residents in a fraud scheme that sought to obtain more than $400,000 by stealing the identities of dead Kansas Citians, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

Warren W. Watkins, 39, and Marissia Jackson, 25, of Kansas City, along with Lamar K. Johnson, 40, of Eldon, face charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government, making false claims, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. The grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday following the arrests of Jackson and Watkins.

The claims sought federal stimulus payments through the federal CARES Act. Prosecutors allege the fraud took place between March 2020 and April 15. Nearly 240 fraudulent claims were made seeking $1,200 payments by falsely using the identities of Kansas City residents, according to court records. Another $152,000 was sought through false federal income tax returns, prosecutors allege.

In all, authorities say the false claims amounted to $437,000.

Prosecutors say 226 of the stolen identities were tied to Kansas City area funeral homes that Watkins was associated with. Watkins is charged with each of the 37 crimes alleged while Jackson and Johnson each face 10, prosecutors say.

The criminal division of the Internal Revenue Service investigated the case.

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