Two Michigan residents were charged in criminal complaints for conducting an unemployment insurance benefit fraud scheme that allegedly stole millions.
The two defendants, Tauheed Wilder and Shuqueni Franklin, are alleged to have engaged in mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
During their scheme, the individuals alledgly would file multiple claims under their name and fake Social Security numbers. Additionally, they are accused of collecting the identity of other individuals to file false claims for unemployment insurance benefits.
“The funds stolen by these defendants were intended to be used to ease the burden of unemployment suffered by residents of Michigan and other States. Those who steal unemployment benefits steal from all taxpayers and jeopardize the safety net Congress enacted to protect employees who lost jobs during the pandemic. These arrests reflect our ongoing commitment to investigating these schemes and bringing the people who commit these crimes to justice,” stated Acting US Attorney Saima M. Mohsin.
In total, Wilder and Franklin allegedly filed at least 470 claims for fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits in at least five states. They allegedly caused $4 million in inflicted damages and attempted to collect over $13 million.
Law enforcement officials captured the two when surveillance cameras depicted them using ATM cards with stolen identities to withdraw the unemployment benefits.
“When someone loses their job, they trust that help will be there to get them through rough times. Thieves jeopardize that trust and threaten the safety net for those truly in need. We won’t let that happen,” said Juila Dale, Director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. “Through the tireless work of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force, we are bringing these criminals to justice and the Task Force partners should be commended for their efforts.”
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