YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Struthers woman faces a federal indictment on charges that she falsely collected pandemic unemployment funds.
Brianna Yerkey was arraigned Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Youngstown on a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Southern District Court of Ohio charging Yerkey with wire fraud.
Yerkey posted $20,000 bond and must appear Monday in federal court in Indianapolis.
A criminal complaint said that investigators became aware that Yerkey was fraudulently claiming unemployment funds between August 2020 and October 2021 after she bragged about it on Snapchat and Facebook.
The complaint said Yerkey was bragging online about getting “free money,” and when someone asked how she was getting free money, she told the person she was getting it by filing unemployment claims with the state of Indiana.
With help from the Indiana State Police, the FBI was able to locate a claim for Yerkey and listed her address in Struthers.
For her claim, Yerkey said she was employed by a home health care facility in Highland, Ind., but there is no record of Yerkey ever working there, according to the complaint.
Yerkey also gave another address Bloomington, Ind., for her claim but she never lived there, the complaint said. The complaint said it is common for people making false claims to use an address near a university, and Indiana University is located in Bloomington.
Yerkey received $3,592 in benefits between January and February of 2021, according to the complaint.
Yerkey also instructed people on how to file for false claims, according to the complaint. She started out charging $500 for advice and later raised that $1,300, according to the complaint.
Three people who said they were advised by Yerkey collected over $6,000 combined, according to the complaint. One of those people was interviewed in Struthers and the other person was interviewed in Youngstown, according to the complaint.