STOCKTON (CBS13) – A federal grand jury returned a 17-count indictment to a Stockton woman accused of mail and bank fraud schemes targeting unemployment benefits and identity theft victims, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced on Friday.
Rhiannon Ausk, 24, was charged with mail and bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of stolen U.S. mail, unlawful possession of Postal Service keys and obstruction of justice, said Scott, with the U.S. Department of Justice Eastern District of California.
Ausk engaged in two separate schemes impacting the Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance program and Northern California identity theft victims, according to a news release from Scott’s office.
She allegedly obtained personal information from at least 20 victims and filed for unemployment benefits under their names. Several of the applications were approved, which resulted in prepaid debit cards filled with the benefits being mailed to Ausk.
Additionally, Ausk carried out a bank fraud scheme that saw the theft of U.S mail, identity theft, and the use of stolen bank cards, officials said. Ausk is accused of making counterfeit Postal Service keys to break into mailboxes and steal mail containing bank cards and victims’ personal information.
The Department of Justice said Ausk is facing the obstruction of justice charge “because, as alleged in the indictment, she corruptly obstructed, influenced, and impeded an official proceeding, and attempted to do so, by warning criminal associates about the existence and course of a criminal investigation and prosecution and directing those criminal associates to destroy evidence.”
Ausk faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud, 30 years for bank fraud, and 20 years for obstruction of justice, in addition to a mandatory two years in prison if convicted of aggravated identity theft. Ausk also faces up to $250,000 in fines on each charge.