APD announced the bust after a series of events unfolded starting on Thursday, Feb. 11.
On Feb. 11, Atlanta Police found a 32-year-old man, who was wanted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for being in possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, in a blue SUV in the Family Dollar parking lot at 455 North Avenue.
APD said he had a lengthy criminal history with 19 arrests and known gang ties.
Officers said they approached the man and told him to come out of his SUV. APD said there was one officer on his driver's side and another on his passenger's side. Both officers had their hands on the SUV's door handles when the man drove off at a high speed. APD said another officer chased the man but lost sight of him.
Officers caught up with him again five days later on Tuesday, Feb. 16 in a blue Genesis at an apartment garage at 903 Huff Road.
Officers said they saw him leaving the apartment garage, called for backup and tried to stop him but he reversed his car to get away and hit an unmarked police car before running away on foot, according to APD.
Officers said they caught up with him after a short chase. APD said there were no injuries and the man was booked into Fulton County Jail.
After searching the man and his car, officers found marijuana and Fentanyl patches on him, as well as a notebook in his car containing an individual's personal information and several electronic devices.
APD said this led them to believe he was involved in identity theft and that more people were involved.
After searching the man's electronic devices, investigators found the man was part of a group that used peoples' personal information to file fraudulent unemployment claims in Georgia.
According to APD, he was charged with Theft by Taking, False Statements, Computer Forgery, Fraudulent Unemployment Claims and four counts of Identity Fraud.
APD identified four additional members of the unemployment claims fraud ring. According to APD records, these are their arrests and charges below:
- A 31-year-old woman and convicted felon with 40 arrests. She has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Taking, Conspiracy to Commit False Statements, Conspiracy to Commit Computer Forgery, Conspiracy to Commit Fraudulent Unemployment Claims, and Identity Fraud.
- A 32-year-old man and convicted felon with 20 arrests. He has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Taking, Conspiracy to Commit False Statements, Conspiracy to Commit Computer Forgery, Conspiracy to Commit Fraudulent Unemployment Claims, and Identity Fraud, APD reported.
- A 34-year-old man and convicted felon with 28 arrests. He has been charged with Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Taking, Conspiracy to Commit False Statements, Conspiracy to Commit Computer Forgery, Conspiracy to Commit Fraudulent Unemployment Claims, and two counts of Identity Fraud.
- A 26-year-old man and convicted felon with 16 arrests. He has been charged with Theft by Taking, Fraudulent Unemployment Claims, and Identity Theft.
Police said it is still unknown how much money the group obtained through these fraudulent unemployment claims. Police continue to investigate and hope to finally get the unemployment relief to the people impacted by the fraudulent claims.
"We know so many in our communities have been struggling financially over the past year and seeing a group of people using their information to steal benefits meant for them is despicable," APD said in a release. "The stress this caused to those who attempted to receive financial support, just to find a career criminal had fraudulently obtained their benefits must have been tremendous."