REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — A woman quietly collected more than $145,000 in fraudulent unemployment checks through the EDD using two false identities, prosecutors said. One of the identities used by Brandy Iglesias certainly stood out to investigators — Scott Peterson.
Peterson is one of California’s most infamous inmates and he’s been locked up on San Quentin State Prison’s death row for the past 17 years. Prosecutors said Iglesias also collected unemployment checks from the California’s Employment Development Department using another convicted murderer’s identity, Cary Stayner.
Stayner, also known as “The Yosemite Killer,” has been incarcerated on death row in San Quentin since 2002.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Iglesias’ arrest this week and prosecutors are charging her with multiple counts of felony grand theft and forgery.
“Don’t let the infamous names distract you from who this crime really hurt — the most vulnerable in our society,” Bonta said. “EDD theft hurts families in need, parents left without jobs during a pandemic, and Californians struggling to get by.”
Iglesias fraudulently collected benefits between 2020 and 2021 in both her own name, as well as through the identities of Peterson and Stayner, according to prosecutors.
The arrest was the result of a multiagency investigation, involving the California Department of Justice, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and EDD.
“This case sends another strong message that EDD holds identity thieves and fraudsters accountable for their crimes,” said EDD Director Nancy Farias. “EDD will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to hold accountable criminals who stole identities and defrauded the unemployment system.”
Prosecutors said the investigation revealed that Iglesias was employed by a private company that contracted with the prison, and through her employment, she gained access to prisoners’ personal information.
Iglesias was arrested on October 15 in Contra Costa County and taken into custody.
“Fraud of this nature is abhorrent, and caused harm to people and families during their time of need,” said CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison.
More than 20 million Californians filed for unemployment, disability insurance, and paid family leave claims within the past decade.
California and every state in the nation experienced unprecedented fraud attempts during the early part of the pandemic. The vast majority of these schemes were linked to the emergency federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which lacked the safeguards in traditional state unemployment insurance, and is no longer in effect, prosecutors said. California took actions to halt fraudsters and prevent tens of billions of dollars in further fraud attempts.