KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three Missouri residents have been indicted by a federal grand jury in a scheme to use the identities of deceased people to file hundreds of false stimulus claims under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Warren W. Watkins, 39, and Marissia Jackson, 25, both of Kansas City, Mo., and Lamar K. Johnson, 40, of Eldon, Mo., were charged in a 37-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 5, 2021. The indictment was unsealed and made public following the arrests yesterday of Watkins and Johnson.
The federal indictment alleges that Watkins, Jackson, and Johnson participated in a conspiracy to defraud the federal government from March 28, 2020, while they were all living at the same Kansas City, Mo., address, to April 15, 2021.
They allegedly used the identities of other people to file a total of 238 false and fraudulent economic impact payment claims. Each claim sought a $1,200 economic impact payment available under the CARES Act, for a total of $285,600. Most of the individuals whose identities were used were deceased.
They allegedly also filed at least 28 false and fraudulent federal income tax returns in the names of other individuals seeking a total of $152,155 in income tax credits and refunds. (The IRS actually paid only $4,800 of the claims.) According to the indictment, the total attempted loss from both schemes was $437,755.
Watkins was associated with two Kansas City, Mo., funeral homes. According to the indictment, 226 of the individuals whose identities were used to file the false claims had received funeral services from the two funeral homes or a third associated funeral home.
In addition to the fraud conspiracy, the indictment charges 12 counts of false claims, 12 counts of wire fraud, and 12 counts of aggravated identity theft. Watkins is charged in each of the 37 counts of the indictment, while Jackson and Johnson each are charged in a total of 10 counts.
The charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Mahoney. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Western District of Missouri