PROVIDENCE, RI — On Monday, aa Rhode Island man, self-styled “Mr. Vacation,” pleaded guilty to conspiring to file fraudulent applications for COVID unemployment relief (CARES Act) funds in eight states, uncovered by Warwick Police in 2020.
Courtney Hilaire, 29, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, fourteen counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to possess more than fifteen unauthorized access devices, and possession of device making equipment. He’ll be sentenced March 30, 2022, United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced.
Warwick Police uncovered the conspiracy when they found Hilaire and others inside a stolen car parked in a hotel parking lot in July of 2020. Inside the vehicle, Warwick Police discovered 33 counterfeit credit cards, fraudulent drivers’ licenses from multiple states, equipment used to read and transfer information onto credit card magnetic strips, listings of individuals identities and personal identifying information, and approximately $13,000 in crisp, clean $100 and $50-dollar bills.
Hilaire admitted that, beginning around March 1, 2020, he conspired with others to file fraudulent claims seeking funds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Program administered by the Small Business Administration. The EIDL program was created to assist individuals who were unemployed due to the pandemic. Hilaire admitted that he and others used stolen Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal identifying information when filing electronic applications for pandemic relief funds from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Florida, Nevada, and Tennessee.
Warwick Police and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the conspiracy. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney William J. Ferland.
Rhode Islanders who believe their personal identification has been stolen and used to fraudulently obtain unemployment benefits are urged to contact the Rhode Island State Police at firstname.lastname@example.org or the FBI Providence office at (401) 272-8310.
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