Photo courtesy of the EDD.

A San Diego woman faces a dozen wire fraud and identity theft counts stemming from allegations that she conspired with her prison inmate boyfriend to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic unemployment aid.

Nyika Gomez, 40, once employed by a state Employment Development Department contractor as a call center agent, assisted applicants in processing unemployment insurance claims.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gomez submitted false unemployment insurance claims using personal identifying information she acquired from inmates.

Her boyfriend, an unidentified inmate serving a 94-years-to life sentence for murder at California State Prison, Sacramento, allegedly helped.

Investigators also accuse Gomez’s boyfriend of helping her buy stolen personal identifying information from out-of-state residents to submit additional false claims.

The benefits were paid out in the form of debit cards mailed to Gomez’s residence or the home of someone working with her. She allegedly returned some of the proceeds to inmates by transferring money to their prison accounts.

Authorities arrested Gomez Wednesday at her home. She made her initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon.

The case comes as state investigators look into allegations of hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud allegedly committed by inmates at state prisons and local jails.

“Pandemic unemployment insurance programs are a critical part of our safety net designed to support hardworking citizens who are suffering during this unprecedented time,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.

“Fraud related to COVID-19 is particularly disturbing as it exploits a national crisis for personal gain.”

– City News Service