Former New England Patriots wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins has been charged with access device fraud and identity theft after allegedly orchestrating a $300,000 fraud scheme.
Thompkins allegedly used the stolen identities of Florida residents to obtain unemployment insurance benefits from California that were meant for people who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
Thompkins is charged with one count of access device fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Access device fraud carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and aggravated identity theft carries a penalty of two mandatory years in prison, according to the Boston Globe.
The charges against Thompkins, who played for the Patriots, Raiders and Jets, came among indictments released by South Florida officials investigating fraud related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
“Our investigations quickly identified individuals willing to capitalize on this national emergency to enrich themselves at the expense of struggling businesses and their employees,” George L. Piro, the Special Agent in Charge at the FBI Miami Field Office, said in a statement.
“Today does not represent the end of our efforts in this fight. The FBI will continue to pursue those who defraud the government until they are all prosecuted.”
California’s unemployment benefits were mailed to recipients in the form of debit cards so cash could be withdrawn from an ATM.
The 32-year-old former NFL player is accused of using the debit cards he fraudulently obtained to withdraw $230,000 of roughly $300,000 in unemployment insurance funds from Aug. 16 – Sept. 23, 2020.
Thompkins was identified on surveillance video allegedly using the debit cards at various Bank of America branches in Miami-Dade County, according to the original criminal complaint.
Officials executed a search warrant at Thompkins’ residence in January and discovered handwritten notes with the names and social security numbers of at least three victims of identity theft.
The complaint also detailed how various Social Security numbers were used to fraudulently file for unemployment insurance benefits in California but then mailed to Thompkins’ address.
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Miami Friday, according to the Globe.
“To anyone thinking of using the global pandemic as an opportunity to scam and steal from hardworking Americans, my advice is simple — don’t,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.
“No matter where you are or who you are, we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Thompkins appeared in his last NFL game over five years ago.
He signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2013, but was cut from the team in October 2014.
In his rookie season, he caught 32 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns, according to Boston.com.
Thompkins went on to play with the then-Oakland Raiders before re-signing with the Patriots practice squad in September 2015 for a 24-day stint.
He finished his NFL career playing seven games with the New York Jets in 2015.
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