Nicollet County Courthouse

Nicollet County Courthouse

The Free Press

NORTH MANKATO — A North Mankato woman who used an ex-boyfriend’s name to fraudulently collect unemployment money said she did it because he was not paying child support, according to a court complaint.

Payton Renee Pehling, 24, was charged with felony counts of unemployment benefits fraud and theft by swindle Monday in Nicollet County District Court.

In May a man reported he applied for unemployment benefits and was told he already was receiving benefits that were being deposited into a bank account. He suspected Pehling, with whom he had shared his Social Security number and other identity information during a prior relationship.

An investigator found nearly $5,300 in payments between March and May that the man said he never received and started while he was still employed.

Pehling reportedly told the investigator she filed for unemployment on the man’s behalf while they were still dating because she wasn’t sure if he would keep his job. She said she used her own bank account because the man did not have one, the complaint said.

Pehling allegedly admitted she continued completing the required weekly eligibility questionnaire and continued fraudulently collecting money even after they broke up. She reportedly said she knew it was illegal but did so because the man refused to support her or their child.