Batavia woman arrested, charged after allegedly defrauding federal COVID-19 relief programs

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FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, the Department of Justice seal is seen in Washington, D.C. An internet firm is ending the automated registration of website names that include words or phrases related to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to combat coronavirus-related fraud. Los Angeles-based Namecheap Inc. made the pledge after a federal judge in Texas on Sunday, March 22, 2020, ordered the takedown of a website the U.S. Department of Justice accused of stealing credit card information while offering fake coronavirus vaccine kits. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WIVB) — Danielle Tooley, 36, of Batavia has been arrested and charged after allegedly defrauding federal COVID-19 relief programs. 

The United States Attorney’s office says, between July and December 4, 2020, Tooley and others used “personal identifying information of other individuals” to apply and benefit from federal COVID-19 relief program unemployment benefits.

The 36-year-old first showed up on authorities’ radar when Tooley was arrested on November 24, 2020, during a traffic stop in Bergen, N.Y., and charged with possession of a controlled substance. A search of Tooley’s vehicle turned up six New York State unemployment benefit cards issued to other people.

Investigators with the Buffalo Field Office of the U.S. Department of Labor and Office of Inspector General found bank records that showed “several indicators of fraud.” Video footage from ATMs showed Tooley used the cards to withdraw money, according to the USAO.

The alleged fraud cost the United States a loss of at least $99,141.39.

Tooley was charged by criminal complaint with wire fraud and theft of government funds. The charges carry a maximum of 30 years behind bars and a $1,000,000 fine.

Danielle Tooley was released on conditions after an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark W. Pedersen.

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