Police: Woman arrested after collecting over $500K in pandemic unemployment benefits

News Reports
The Register-Mail

GALESBURG — Galesburg Police have arrested a woman and charged her with theft and identity theft for her alleged role in collecting U.S. Pandemic Unemployment benefits in excess of $500,000.

On June 22, the Galesburg Police Department arrested Diane J. Wall, 57, on an arrest warrant issued by the Knox County State's Attorney's Office for multiple counts of theft and identity theft in excess of $500,000.

According to a police news release, an investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Inspector General’s Office and the Knox County State's Attorney's Office began in June of 2021 when it was determined a significant amount of unemployment benefits were being mailed to an address in Galesburg. This address in Galesburg was involved in collecting U.S. Pandemic Unemployment benefits from multiple U.S. states over the course of months totaling $529,173 from one of many sourced banking institutions.

Further information also indicated the benefit accounts were being dispersed via prepaid (mailed) cards in which funds were being withdrawn primarily in the Galesburg area.

Further investigation resulted in the discovery of Wall being in possession of a significant amount of identity paperwork, U.S. government-funded debit cards, and ledger data reasonably indicating organized, thorough bookkeeping procedures. The collected evidence also indicated the total theft amount was significantly higher than the initial single-sourced total of $529,173.

The collected evidence also indicates the criminal operation described was part of a much larger network of criminal enterprise and involves more individuals and potentially foreign actors.

"The Galesburg Police Department and the Knox County State's Attorney's Office acknowledge the serious negative impact identity theft and fraud have on citizens and community businesses," Galesburg Police Chief Russ Idle said in the news release. "We will continue to locate and apprehend those who choose to take advantage of publicly funded systems and our citizens."

The investigation into this incident is still ongoing.