ALBANY – A Saratoga Springs man used a fake social security number to illegally receive unemployment benefits, including COVID relief funds, U.S. Attorneys officials said Monday.
Markhwan Berning, 36, was arraigned Friday on a federal indictment charging him with false representation of a social security number.
He is accused of obtaining unemployment insurance benefits from May to July using a fake social security number as his own, prosecutors said.
A release did not indicate how much Berning is accused of taking using the fake social security number, but indicated the benefits taken include benefits from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act signed in March. The act included $600 weekly benefits for those eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
If convicted, Berning would face up to five years in prison and a maximum of a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York State Department of Labor, Office of Special Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua R. Rosenthal.
The case is also being investigated as part of the Department of Justice’s COVID Fraud Task Force.