Crime - Sacto 911

Former call center employee pleads guilty in benefits fraud scheme

A former employee of a Carmichael call center has pleaded guilty in federal court to fraudulently diverting more than $689,000 in unemployment benefits.

Saraya Latrice Kelly, 29, of Sacramento, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Kelly worked at a call center in Carmichael that serviced debit cards issued in connection with the delivery of California unemployment benefits. Beneficiaries could contact the call center to request transfer of their unemployment benefits from their debit card account to another bank account.

Over an 11-month period, Kelly and her co-conspirators posed as beneficiaries and initiated the transfer of unemployment benefits from the beneficiaries’ debit card accounts to third-party bank accounts unrelated to the actual beneficiaries and controlled instead by the conspirators, the news release said.

In some cases, Kelly and her co-conspirators phoned the call center to request the transfers. In other instances, they logged into the call center’s computer system and initiated transfers by entering false notes in the beneficiary’s account logs, indicating that the beneficiary had requested a money transfer, the news release said.

Kelly is to be sentenced Dec. 1 by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy