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Moses Lake man charged in benefits scheme

| September 28, 2021 1:03 AM

SEATTLE (AP) — Authorities say a former employee with the state Employment Security Department was arrested Friday and charged with defrauding the government of at least $360,000 in jobless benefits.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle said Friday that Reyes De La Cruz, III, 47, of Moses Lake is “alleged to have personally enriched himself by at least $130,000 “ and to have helped others fraudulently obtain tens of thousands of dollars in benefits.

The Seattle Times reports that De La Cruz was arrested in Moses Lake on Friday. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney.

The investigation was first made public this past spring in the state’s audit of the massive fraud that made off with around $650 million in unemployment benefits, though authorities were able to recover a substantial amount of that.

While most of last year’s fraud had been tied to foreign cybercriminals, the auditor noted that one state employee was under criminal investigation for “potential misappropriation” of an undisclosed amount of unemployment benefits.