A criminal complaint unsealed in court on Thursday alleges that 11 members and associates of Brooklyn’s Woo Gang submitted false unemployment claims worth about $20 million, using stolen identities to successfully pocket more than $4.3 million in pandemic relief benefits.
“The defendants conspired to steal millions of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment assistance and then brazenly flaunted the proceeds of their crimes on social media,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said.
The alleged gang members were ultimately caught after posting numerous pictures on social media in which they flashed piles of cash while standing in front of luxury cars.
“Photographs and videos of the defendants posted on publicly-accessible social media pages show them (a) expressing their allegiance to the Woo street gang through hand signs and other means, and (b) flaunting their ill-gotten gains by displaying large stacks of United States currency and standing near luxury vehicles,” investigators wrote in the criminal complaint.
Meanwhile, several of the defendants went as far as appearing in a music video for a song called “Trappin,” which was posted to YouTube in May 2021, and saw the alleged Woo gang members reference their fraud scheme. “Unemployment got us workin’ a lot,” they rapped.
All 11 men have been charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Those being charged includes Romean Brown, Tyrek Clarke, Kennith Desir, Stephan Dorminvil, Kai Heyward, Keith James, Oneal Marks, Jahriah Olivierre, Christopher Jean Pierre, Roleeke Smith, and Christopher Topey.