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A Modesto woman admitted to making more than $145,000 in stimulus check claims as part of a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft

Payam Javan: In a federal courthouse in San Francisco on Friday, a Modesto woman admitted to making more than $145,000 in stimulus check claims as part of a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Last May, Sheila Denise Dunlap, 51, was charged in a federal indictment with conspiring to file hundreds of fraudulent applications for Economic Impact (EIP) payments, sometimes known as stimulus checks.

The EIP program was included in the CARES Act, a federal relief package enacted into law in March 2020 to alleviate the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who earned less than $99,000 on their 2019 income tax returns, or whose income was so low that a tax return filing was not necessary, were eligible to receive EIP money under the CARES Act’s EIP provision. Payments under the EIP ranged from $1,200 to $500 for an adult and $500 for an eligible kid.

Dunlap pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a potential sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. She also admitted to one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a maximum punishment of two years in prison plus a fine of $250,000, in addition to any other sentence imposed.

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