SCHENECTADY –- A Malta man admitted this week to stealing more than $141,000 in unemployment benefits during the pandemic by assuming multiple identities, the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office said.
He used the money to live a “life of luxury” and to make risky stock market bets, officials said.
Mathew Baldwin, 23, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of second-degree grand larceny, a felony.
He was also sentenced the same day as his plea to 20 months to five years in state prison and ordered to pay more than $126,000 in restitution, the amount still owed after law enforcement seized $15,000 in cash and expensive electronic devices from Baldwin.
The District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation with the state police Financial Crimes Unit.
“Prosecutors and investigators obtained and analyzed voluminous records to uncover and untangle Mr. Baldwin’s fraud,” prosecutors said in a release. “The investigation revealed that Mr. Baldwin used the stolen money to live a life of luxury and to fund risky stock market bets.”
Baldwin was arrested April 1 and investigators executed multiple search warrants on his residences. They also seized his bank accounts and other assets.
The investigation began in October when authorities discovered Baldwin was using stolen identities to certify state unemployment insurance benefits, state police said.
The investigation then revealed Baldwin received the money by using the identities of several unsuspecting victims, state police said.
Schenectady County prosecutors took the case as the fraud was committed using bank accounts in Schenectady County, though Baldwin operated in Malta.
“The relief programs created to assist people during the pandemic shutdown have proved tempting targets for scam artists,” Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said in a press release. “These programs were created to quickly provide help to those who had lost their income and were susceptible to being manipulated by people for benefits under multiple identities.
“I am proud of the work my financial crimes team ADA William Lemon and Inv. Jim McCrum, who are working closely with state agencies and officials to uncover this fraud and expose it. I believe that prosecuting people such as Mr. Baldwin is vitally important to ensure that government relief goes only to those who need it and this office will continue to pursue such prosecutions which may, unfortunately, be widespread.”
Baldwin was represented by attorney Lawrence Oh. Judge Mark J. Caruso presided.