BOSTON - A local man pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges related to obtaining and misusing COVID-19-related unemployment assistance.
Norman Higgs, 34, of Dudley, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy in federal court on Friday, September 17. Higgs will appear for sentencing on December 17.
According to prosecutors, from April 2020 to June 2020, Higgs conspired with others to submit fraudulent claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance [PUA] using stolen identification information.
The PUA funds were to bank accounts controlled by Higgs and other co-conspirators. They used the funds for their personal benefit, including to pay off credit card debt and to fund digital currency and online retail brokerage accounts.
Prosecutors allege that Higgs and others obtained over $450,000 in proceeds from over 85 fraudulent PUA claims using stolen identities.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.