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Scammers use Fake Documents to Steal Millions in Unemployment Funds; Here's how That Works

The indictment, partially unsealed on Thursday, alleges that the defendants collectively orchestrated a plot that siphoned off more than $5 million in state unemployment funds
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Ingo Joseph
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Ingo Joseph

Unemployment is a rising concern across the globe and in the US a wave of layoffs in some sectors has highlighted the need to protect people against its impact. But the funds set aside to tackle job loss and lack of employment have also attracted shady elements. In a significant development, the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego has unveiled charges against fourteen individuals involved in an elaborate scheme to defraud California's Employment Development Department (EDD). The indictment, partially unsealed on Thursday, alleges that the defendants collectively orchestrated a plot that siphoned off more than $5 million in state unemployment funds.

The accused individuals, including David Constantin and Constantin Bobi Sandu, are charged with recruiting and assisting hundreds of people in filing fraudulent applications for EDD benefits. These applications were supported by fake documents, leading to the illicit disbursement of state funds.

Image Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska
Image Source: Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

According to prosecutors, applicants reportedly paid these individuals for their assistance in filing fraudulent claims, and upon successful disbursement of EDD payments, Constantin and Sandu received additional compensation.

While Sandu has already pled guilty and is set to be sentenced on Monday in San Diego, the situation with Constantin has taken an international turn. Constantin was apprehended in Romania earlier this week, and the Department of Justice is now seeking his extradition to the United States. This international dimension complicated the legal proceedings, highlighting the global nature of modern financial crimes.


The indictment reveals that Sandu, Constantin, and their accomplices transferred the ill-gotten gains to Romania, where the funds were utilized for personal expenses. Sandu, for instance, wired $16,000 to Romania, earmarked for the renovation of his residence. Constantin, on the other hand, sent over $128,000 to associates in Romania. The funds were not just stashed away but actively used for personal enrichment.

Eduard Buse, another defendant in the case, is accused of spending $105,000 from the fraudulent proceeds to purchase a 2020 BMW X6. The luxury car was then shipped to Romania, and these high-end purchases and cross-border transactions paint a vivid picture of how the fraudulently obtained funds were not only concealed but also actively splurged on a lavish lifestyle.

The Aston Martin  | Wikimedia Commons
The Aston Martin | Wikimedia Commons

In total, the defendants managed to extract nearly $5.2 million from the California state coffers, as outlined by the U.S. Attorney's Office. This staggering sum underscores the audacity and scale of the operation, leaving authorities to grapple with the aftermath and devise strategies to prevent such large-scale fraud in the future.

Despite the legal proceedings, nine of the fourteen indicted individuals remain at large, evading arrest. The pursuit of justice extends beyond borders, as seen in the case of Constantin, whose apprehension required cooperation between U.S. and Romanian authorities. As the legal battle unfolds, it will shed light on the intricacies of transnational financial crimes and the challenges authorities face in holding perpetrators accountable.