Stimulus Check money proved to be a great helping hand to the residents of America.
A South Carolina family has been sentenced for stealing the stimulus checks of elderly people across the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pates, who operated a store in Ridgeville, were going to a sentencing hearing Friday at federal court in Charleston. They pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges last year after admitting they used their business as a conduit for stolen government money.
They must pay $687,000 in restitution and serve 10 years in prison — longer than recommended by prosecutors because of their prior criminal history and because some victims died before getting their checks back.
2 Years in Prison For Stealing Stimulus Checks
Authorities said Cameron and Lanisha Pate scammed their victims out of nearly $700,000 through mail fraud and identity theft while using bank accounts linked to their convenience store in Ridgeville, according to news outlets.
The Pates used Chase Bank accounts for the fraud and had a post office box at the Edgefield County Post Office, where they intercepted the stimulus checks from Social Security Administration (SSA), according to authorities.
Authorities said that some of the victims who received checks from SSA did not know about them until they realized that money was missing from their bank accounts.
The couple was sentenced this week in federal court in Charleston alongside four relatives who helped them. They all face a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, and maximum sentences ranging from five to 20 years.
The couple was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and federal program theft after prosecutors said they stole more than $750,000 through bogus pre-paid debit cards that were created using information stolen from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 program, which provides subsidies for low-income families.