Woman with 5 kids accused of 24 fraudulent Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend filings

The glass door to the entrance of the PFD office. In black lettering is "PFD State of Alaska, Lobby hours Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m."
The State of Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend Division office in downtown Anchorage on Aug. 31, 2022. (Valerie Lake/Alaska Public Media)

State prosecutors say a woman faces more than two dozen felony charges after she fraudulently filed for four years of Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends for her and her five children.

Court records show Otaota Mokoma, 35, charged with 24 counts related to falsifying records in the case, spanning from 2018 to 2021, plus one count each of first-degree theft and scheme to defraud.

According to a charging document against Mokoma, fraud investigators with the state Permanent Fund Dividend Division got a tip in July 2023 about her PFD filings. An examination determined that she had received more than $25,000 in fraudulent dividends from 2018 to 2020, after online filings for those years which were geolocated to Utah.

“Mokoma indicated that she and each of her five children were in Alaska at the time she applied for 2018-2021 PFDs,” prosecutors wrote. “She also provided false addresses where she and her five children allegedly resided in Anchorage, Alaska at the time.”

Prosecutors say Mokoma also filed for six 2021 dividends, in an application geolocated to Seattle. She allegedly called the state in October 2021 to ask about the status of her applications.

“She was advised that her applications were with the Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) and was provided with contact information for the CIU,” prosecutors wrote. “There are no further records of Mokoma contacting CIU or (the division) again.”

When an investigator spoke with Mokoma by phone in October 2023, she allegedly said that she had left Alaska in 2017, which was the last year she said she applied for a PFD. She specifically denied filing for dividends for herself or her children from 2018 to 2021, prosecutors said in the charging document.

But investigators said dividend checks for Mokoma’s 2018 applications were sent to an Anchorage address. The 2019 and 2020 dividends were directly deposited into a Credit Union 1 account, for which Mokoma was the sole owner and signatory.

Investigators also spoke with staff at the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., which owned the housing unit where Mokoma allegedly claimed to live in her dividend filings. They said Mokoma had applied for housing in 2018, but was rejected.

“AHFC has no records of Mokoma and/or her children ever residing at any of their properties, including the one listed in (the fraudulent applications),” prosecutors wrote.

Court records name no counsel for Mokoma, and she was not listed in state custody on Tuesday.

Assistant Attorney General Andrew Grannik, who is prosecuting the case, said in an email Tuesday afternoon that the 2021 dividends Mokoma had applied for were never paid. He said that a court summons had been issued for Mokoma to appear in the case.

Mokoma’s case is just one example of dividend fraud the state has seen in recent years. In 2018, former Alaskan Sheila Mary Rose McMahon was charged with nearly 150 felonies after prosecutors said she sought more than $80,000 in fraudulent PFDs. Court records show she pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of scheme to defraud, paying more than $13,000 in fines.

Cook Inlet fisherman and political figure Roland Maw reached a similar plea deal two years ago, paying about $10,000 in fines and restitution after he collected six years of dividends while residing in another state.

a portrait of a man outside

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him atcklint@alaskapublic.org.Read more about Chrishere.

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