Atlanta Man Sentenced for Laundering Funds from Fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Claims

On April 1, 2024, Austin Martin Siampwizi was sentenced for his involvement in laundering money obtained from fraudulent unemployment claims made during the COVID-19 pandemic peak. U.S.

“Siampwizi laundered proceeds from fraudulent unemployment claims filed using the stolen identities of more than 50 victims,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan. “His sentence of imprisonment is an example of our office’s commitment to work closely with our federal and state law enforcement partners to hold individuals accountable for defrauding the CARES Act program.”

“Austin Martin Siampwizi engaged in a scheme to purchase and subsequently cash hundreds of money orders that were funded with fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The UI benefits were from fraudulent online claims submitted to the Washington Employment Security Department using stolen identities. Today’s sentencing affirms the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General’s commitment to working with our federal and state law enforcement partners to investigate identity theft involving the UI program,” said Mathew Broadhurst, Special Agent-in-Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.

“The defendant chose to enrich himself by committing fraud, further depleting limited funds that were designated to help businesses struggling to survive during the pandemic,” said Robert C. Donovan, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service Atlanta Field Office. “This case signifies our commitment to protect citizens and businesses from fraud and identity theft. We will continue to work closely with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to prosecute those who abuse these programs.”

According to U.S. Attorney Buchanan, the charges and other information presented in court: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act created a temporary federal program that provided up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those unemployed as a result of the pandemic and included a provision to provide temporary benefits to individuals who had exhausted their entitlement to regular benefits or were otherwise not eligible. That temporary federal program was administered by state employment agencies.

Siampwizi laundered money obtained from fraudulent unemployment claims submitted to the Employment Security Department of Washington State. These claims were filed using stolen personally identifiable information of over 50 individuals. Siampwizi also submitted fraudulent Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program loan applications for his two businesses, Global Car Rental, LLC, and Global Group Development & Construction, LLC.

Siampwizi, 47, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to three years, one month in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $279,210.52.  On December 14, 2023, Siampwizi pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Secret Service.