Kayla Giles arrested, accused of identity theft, benefits fraud

Louisiana Attorney General’s Office files new motion to revoke Giles' bond
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 2:22 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 4:18 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Kayla Giles, the Alexandria woman charged with second-degree murder and obstruction of justice for the Sept. 2018 shooting death of her estranged husband Thomas Coutee, Jr. in a Walmart parking lot, has been arrested again and is now accused in an identity theft case. Giles was booked into the Rapides Parish jail Monday afternoon on a warrant obtained by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.

According to the affidavit for the arrest warrant, Giles is accused of one count each of identity theft, government benefits fraud, criminal conspiracy and money laundering.

The affidavit states that the criminal investigative division of the Louisiana Department of Justice received information from an individual, identified as MW, who believed she “may be the victim of identity theft or other types of fraud.”

The individual told investigators that an unknown individual “used her personally identifying information to obtain a Bank of America debit card.” MW contacted Bank of America and obtained copies of the statements detailing the activity associated with the card. After reviewing the transactions, “MW determined that the card was obtained and used without her knowledge or consent.”

The case made its way to LBI Special Agent Jedd Faulk. Faulk took a look at the transactions.

“This review revealed that on June 15, 2020, the card was loaded with approximately $9,006 worth of unemployment benefits in the form of nine separate deposits from the California Economic Development Department (CA EDD) and the remaining transactions consisted of various withdraws from numerous locations which drained the funds from the account."

Special Agent Jedd Faulk

The affidavit states that the funds were withdrawn through a series of electronic fund transfers using phone apps, ATM withdraws and other transactions. MW told investigators that she did not apply for the benefits in California and is not a resident of California.

Two ATM transactions were tracked to ATMs in Rapides Parish - one in Forest Hill and another in Alexandria. Investigators obtained surveillance footage from one of the ATM withdraws and “identified Teri Thibodeaux as withdrawing money from the debit card transactions.” Later, “agents confirmed that Teri Thibodeaux obtained this Bank of America debit card by filing a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim in California, using the identity of MW without her knowledge or consent.”

Investigators wanted to see if Thibodeaux filed for unemployment benefits in Louisiana. According to the affidavit, Faulk determined “Teri Thibodeaux submitted an unemployment claim for unemployment insurance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and administered as part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.” Thibodeaux provided a Forest Hill address on the application.

“A subsequent review of the data provided by LWC revealed that Thibodeaux filed a claim for unemployment on May 24, 2020, and received at least five direct deposits totaling $8,841 relative to this claim.”

Special Agent Jedd Faulk

When searching MW’s Social Security Number (SSN), investigators found “at least five claims totaling just over $9,000 were made using this SSN in the states of Arizona, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and West Virginia.” The claims included an email address and were traceable to an IP address.

A search warrant on the email address revealed that Thibodeaux allegedly used the account to manage fraudulent claims nationwide. Investigators also found what they believed to be a second victim, identified as JD. The claim using the JD name also used the same email address as the MW claim and an address in Forest Hill.

On Friday, Oct. 16, agents arrested Thibodeaux for two counts of identity theft and booked her into the Rapides Parish Jail. According to the affidavit, Thibodeaux agreed to cooperate with investigators.

“Thibodeaux confirmed that she and Kayla Giles began conspiring to commit these fraudulent acts beginning in June 2020. The two suspects discussed specifics about the scheme and outlined the roles that each would play to carry out the criminal behavior. Thibodeaux reiterated several times during her description of her actions that she knew what she was doing was illegal but she justified her actions by emphasizing her need for money. According to Thibodeaux’s recollection, Giles stated that she had already filed claims for approximately twenty-six individuals and she needed Thibodeaux to conduct the weekly certifications required in each state for pre-selected victims. Thibodeaux claimed that Giles drafted a chart outlining the states, claim numbers, value of the claims and other pertinent information used to track each fraudulent claim. Thibodeaux stated that the two met at the Giles' residence at the time, the TownPlace Suites hotel located in Alexandria.”

Special Agent Jedd Faulk

According to the affidavit, while discussing with Thibodeaux about using the identity of MW, “Thibodeux recalled that Giles expressed extreme dislike for MW and in addition to using her identity to file fraudulent claims, Giles sought to ‘ruin the life’ of MW.” Thibodeaux told investigators that she and Giles split the proceeds evenly. According to Thibodeaux, she paid Giles her share of $4,500 via CashApp and then “confessed to her use of debit card to withdraw cash from ATM machines while also noting that she used the transactions associated with the remaining balance to enrich herself.”

“In addition to the claims filed by these two using stolen identities, valued at approximately $300,000, agents also determined that Thibodeaux and Giles filed multiple fraudulent claims in multiple states using their own names and identities.”

Special Agent Jedd Faulk

Agents also obtained records on for claims allegedly filed by Giles using her own name in the states of Georgia, Virginia and Tennessee. Investigators said during the time period under investigation, “Giles collected a total of $13,652 from claims in these states.” And, “the money from each of these claims was deposited into bank accounts belonging to Kayla Giles and were subsequently found to be used for personal benefit.” Giles also filed a claim in her own name in Louisiana and “failed to notify LWC that she was receiving benefits from multiple states during a time period when she was also receiving benefits from Louisiana.”

“Agents located claims made using the stolen identities of at least 25 individuals, valued at $300,000. [...] The evidence gathered illustrates the calculated steps used by Thibodeaux and Giles to defraud the public institutions designed to provide citizens with financial assistance during times of public pandemic and crisis.”

Special Agent Jedd Faulk

The warrant for Giles' arrest was signed on Sunday by Judge Kelly Balfour of the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge.

In addition to the affidavit, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office filed a motion for a second request to revoke Giles' bond, a request for a bench warrant, and a request for an expedited hearing. The AG’s Office believes Giles is a “flight risk despite her ankle monitor" and cites her recent attempt to be granted permission to move to Buffalo, New York for work and notes that Buffalo is approximately 28 miles from the Canadian border.

The motion is set for Nov. 9.

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