Canuck Crook Received Unemployment Benefits While Imprisoned for her Crimes!
A young Canadian woman was sentenced last Friday (Oct. 19) to 6 to 18 years in state prison for grand larceny as part of a negotiated plea deal for her role in a widespread $2 million identity theft ring that targeted a Jewish charity, banks, and a car dealership. Tracey Nelson, 24, was a clerk in the back offices of UJA-Federation of New York in Manhattan (formerly the United Jewish Appeal), but her position gave her easy access to the credit card and checking account details of enormously wealthy donors such as former AIG executive Hank Greenberg and billionaire Ira Rennert, who owns the largest home in the Hamptons.
Shockingly, Nelson still managed to draw taxpayer-funded unemployment checks while she was locked up, according to a report by the New York Daily News. “Technically,” said Nelson’s attorney Raymond Castello, “she was unemployed.”
The benefits were brought to a halt when prosecutors found out that the 25-year-old thief (and foreign national) was getting paid while being jailed for her crimes. It is unclear exactly how much she had received.
Castello said that Nelson’s hard-luck life was a factor in the crime. He said that she grew up in Toronto and was gang raped when she was 14. She moved to the United States to live with her father and was forced to share a bed in a one-bedroom apartment with her mentally disabled elderly aunt.
“The idea that people were donating their hard earned money to a charity and then becoming victims of crime made that especially appalling to us,” said Deputy Inspector Greg Antonsen of the NYPD’s Financial Crimes Task Force.
A search of Nelson’s home turned up hundreds of copies of checks and credit card numbers of UJA donors, prosecutors said. Nelson sold the donor information to others in the ring, who used it to order duplicate credit cards or to create and then plunder dummy accounts in the donors’ names.
Nelson’s co-conspirators included three Chase bank tellers who either stole information from customers’ accounts or turned “a blind eye” to transactions they knew were disreputable, according to the Manhattan D.A.’s office. Altogether, more than $2 million was stolen from over 200 individuals and organizations.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said the indictments were the fourth major “cybercrime” case his office had announced in four weeks. “We’ve come to realize that the Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century,” he said at a news conference. He added that street gangs were moving “a lucrative part of their business inside and online.”
UJA-Federation of New York is the largest local philanthropy in the world. It provides funding to support a network of more than 100 health, human-service, educational, and community-building agencies and dozens of grantees in New York, Israel, and 60 other countries. These community-based organizations offer a multitude of services to combat poverty, help the elderly age with dignity, promote Jewish identity and renewal, strengthen connections between the Jewish people worldwide, care for people with disabilities and special needs, and stand in support of the people of Israel.
Nelson told the court that not a day goes by that she doesn’t feel saddened and remorseful for her actions.