VALDOSTA, Ga. – A Georgia man with a prior federal conviction for fraud was sentenced to federal prison for a scheme he orchestrated to claim government pandemic funds using identity theft and fraud.
Darrius Hollis, 28, of Quitman, Georgia, was sentenced to serve a total of 42 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson on March 23, after pleading guilty to wire fraud. The sentence included 30 months on the wire fraud conviction and 12 additional months to serve consecutively on a revocation of the supervised release Hollis was still serving for the earlier bank and wire fraud conspiracy conviction. In addition, Judge Lawson ordered Hollis to pay $42,667 in restitution to the Georgia Department of Labor. There is no parole in the federal system.
According to court documents, a United States Secret Service Special Agent was contacted by an individual in Aug. 2020, who believed Hollis was involved with filing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. Hollis was familiar to the agent because of his prior federal fraud conviction. The U.S. Department of Labor ran a query of its claims database and discovered that an unemployment insurance claim seeking federal and state pandemic assistance was electronically filed in Hollis’ name stating that he had been working at a Quitman business and lost his job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Hollis was in federal prison during most of that claimed time period serving a sentence for a previous conviction, having been released from federal custody in late April 2020. Further investigation discovered that Hollis used the identities of two victims to fraudulently apply for and receive unemployment insurance and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money. Hollis admitted to the scheme and is responsible for a total of $42,337 in losses to the State of Georgia and the United States.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Georgia Department of Labor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McCullers prosecuted the case.