Two Michigan residents have been charged in a criminal complaint for their alleged role in defrauding $1.8 million in unemployment benefits from the state.
Jermaine Rose, 41, is an employee of the State of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency whose duties include processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims. Beginning in May, Rose allegedly used his employee access to authorize payment on hundreds of fraudulent claims, specifically overriding “fraud stops” on claims that had been flagged by the state computer system as potentially fraudulent.
Rose authorized the payment of $1.1 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. He attempted to also approve an additional $761,000, but was stopped by the state.
Rose was aided by Detroit resident Serenity Poynter, 36. Poynter allegedly filed at least 25 fraudulent claims, seeking more than $350,000. She reportedly used variations of her own names and false social security numbers to file the claims and obtained $116,000, according to The Detroit News.
Jeffrey Frost, a special fraud adviser for the Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency, expressed disappointment over Rose’s actions.
“It’s disheartening that a public servant would abuse the trust of Michiganders because of their own greed, especially during a time when workers need this financial assistance the most,” Frost said in a statement.
Michigan saw nearly 17,000 unemployment claims the week ending August 15, a drop of nearly 2,000 claims from the week before, according to data released by the Department of Labor. This is the third unemployment insurance fraud scheme charged by the United States Attorney’s Office in a little more than a month, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“At a time when thousands of people in Michigan are out of work because of the pandemic, the defendants are charged with stealing unemployment benefits that should have gone to Michiganders trying to feed their families,” said United States Attorney Matthew Schneider in a statement. “Anyone who steals unemployment funds steals from the people of Michigan
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]