Teen Sucked Dry 800 Unemployment Benefit Accounts. His Reward? Years in Jail

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His honest work history would have been too brief to earn unemployment compensation, but law enforcement officials say that didn’t stop 19-year-old Miami resident Phyllistone Termine from filing over 800 claims for benefits and raking in $1,019,859. On July 27, Termine was sentenced to 54 months in prison followed by years of supervised release.

Court documents identify an IP address connected to the hacker’s residence as the source of over 800 fraudulent benefit claims to the Florida Department of Employment and Opportunity. The scam reportedly ran for nearly a year starting in March 2015.

The teen was making a summer ‘To Do” list when law enforcement raided his home in 2016.

“(L)aw enforcement discovered Termine in his bedroom, wearing ear buds and writing his Summer 2016 fraud goals on a small notepad. The first line read, “Buy 3 Phones, 1 clean, 2 dirty” and “Buy online – Merrick BNK & CCVs,” a statement from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said. CCVs are the three-digit codes usually found on the back of each card.

Debit and credit cards belonging to individuals who didn’t live at the address were found under a mattress near a case containing blank cards and hardware to clone the cards. Several card owners told officials they did not know the young man nor had they filed for unemployment benefits in recent years.

Termine was one of 104 individuals we highlighted in January. All were arrested in southern Florida as part of a crackdown on government benefits theft, criminal impersonation, and other forms of identity theft. His is just one of 81 lawsuits resulting from that sweep. 

Preventing unemployment benefits theft can be very challenging since you don’t have an account to monitor. Watch for any suspicious emails or government communications that could offer an early warning.

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