A California man has been charged with setting up fake businesses in three states, then using names taken from temporary visas issued to students to obtain more than $355,000 in unemployment benefits for nonexistent workers.
Nikolai Monastyrski is charged in federal court in Iowa with wire and mail fraud related to the scheme that prosecutors say he perpetrated there as well as in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
A complaint filed Nov. 10 says Monastyrski received $114,215 from Iowa, $230,000 from Illinois and more than $11,300 from Pennsylvania.
He appeared at a hearing in Des Moines on Thursday and was ordered held by federal marshals until a Jan. 6 hearing in Davenport, where he’ll be tried.
His federal public defender and a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case declined comment.