ALBANY – A Saratoga Springs man admitted Wednesday to using a fake social security number to illegally receive unemployment benefits, including COVID relief funds, U.S. Attorneys officials said.
Markhwan Berning, 37, pleaded guilty in Albany and faces up to five years in federal prison at his October sentencing, officials said.
Berning admitted he obtained unemployment benefits from May to July 2020, including federal pandemic-related benefits, by falsely presenting a fake social security number as his own, prosecutors said.
He then admitted he collected the unemployment insurance benefits using both his correct social security number and the fake one.
In all, he admitted to illegally receiving more than $16,000 in unemployment benefits, according to his federal plea.
Though he faces a maximum possible term of five years, he gave up any right to appeal a sentence of six months or less.
The case was 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 was also investigated as part of the Department of Justice’s COVID Fraud Task Force.