Times are tough, and recent world events have resulted in an unprecedented number of Michigan residents out of work. Claims for unemployment benefits are on the rise, and the opportunity for fraud is always present. While many states have fraud detection programs built into their claims systems, authorities believe numerous employees of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency have committed federal offenses by assisting in schemes to commit fraud.
Recently, federal authorities investigated three separate fraud schemes allegedly occurring at the Michigan UIA. The most recent arrest involved a 41-year-old employee who processed claims for unemployment benefits. Federal investigators believe the man was working with a 36-year-old woman to defraud the unemployment insurance system of more than $350,000.
The employee’s job included reviewing claims and verifying their validity. Authorities allege that the woman conspired with the employee to submit fraudulent claims using fake Social Security numbers. When the agency’s computer system flagged the claims as fraudulent, investigators say the employee would override the fraud stop and approve the payout. Officials also believe the employee was unsuccessful in trying to override an additional $761,000 in fraudulent unemployment claims.
Federal offenses often carry severe penalties, including mandatory prison sentences. Since such investigations typically last for months before an arrest is made, the accused may face the disadvantage of significant evidence against him or her. Michigan residents who even suspect they are under investigation for such offenses would be wise to seek the counsel of an attorney with experience in federal matters as early as possible.