A cyber-criminal gang has shared a 13-page tutorial explaining how to successfully commit unemployment identity fraud in Texas.

The step-by-step tutorial was discovered in an online closed group chat between members of the gang. 

Former FBI agent Crane Hassold explained that the tutorial shows how to apply for unemployment benefits and “even introduces some of the red flags if you enter things a certain way.”

Known as Scattered Canary, the criminal gang are exploiting a Gmail feauture in which Google ignores periods in Gmail addresses, therefore slight variations of a single email address can be used to file multiple fraudulent claims against the Texas Workforce Commission. 

“Essentially it allows their communication flow to be much more efficient,” said Hassold. “Instead of having to go to dozens of different email accounts to look at what’s going on, it’s all coming to one centralized location.”

Scattered Canary is suspected of making millions by defrauding Hawaii, Washington, Wyoming, Florida and more, whilst funneling the money it collects by purchasing prepaid Green Dot cards. The cards are registered using the same identities stolen. Before the cards are delivered via mail, all the funds are drained from the account.

Since the start of the pandemic, Texas has lost more than $893m to fraudulent unemployment benefits.