Entitlement Can Be a Dirty Word

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6752086 - filling the unemployment insurance application form isolated in blue

Entitlement can be a dirty word depending on how it is used. It can either mean that an individual has a legitimate right to something, or it can mean that someone has a belief that they deserve certain privileges or special treatment, when they really don’t. (This is where it can become a dirty word.) Today, we look at a case involving unemployment fraud and how a Detroit, Michigan man, who believed he was entitled to receive unemployment funds even though he was not, stole from victims who were not legitimately entitled to receive them either. (Confused yet? Read on to see what happened.)

The Detroit man at the center of today’s fraud article carried out the multi-faceted unemployment fraud scheme over several years by using the personally identifiable information of other people. (The article doesn’t say how he obtained the personal data, but my guess is he paid for it off the dark web or had a connection with an identity thief, if he didn’t steal the information himself.) He applied for unemployment benefits in the names of the stolen identities, even though those individuals were not entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

The Detroit fraudster not only applied for and received unemployment benefits, he also impersonated his victims and withdrew said fraudulently obtained benefits. Further research revealed that he falsely obtained and used debit cards holding more than $330,000 in unemployment insurance benefits issued to his victims. (Whom I remind you again, were not entitled to the unemployment benefits either.)

It turns out that the Michigan man has a history of entitlement – the wrong kind. Not only did he have a few prior convictions for illegal weapons, drugs and aggravated domestic violence, he was also previously sentenced for illegally possessing a loaded firearm. (Basically, he’s just a hot mess.)

The 54-year-old Detroit, Michigan man was convicted of unemployment fraud. He was sentenced to three years in prison for engaging in mail fraud and being in possession of a firearm as a previously convicted felon. Today’s fraudster was ordered to pay $330,561 in restitution.

Stealing unemployment benefits hurts everyone. It causes many problems for employers who faithfully pay unemployment taxes for each employee. When unemployment fraud occurs, it drives up insurance rates, which can impact how much profit an employer makes and how much salary they can pay their employees. Unemployment fraud also causes the Department of Labor to pay for resources to detect and investigate fraud. This impacts productivity levels and prevents legitimate claimants from receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. And last of all, it impacts victims – those who are truly entitled to receive assistance while out of a job. (Congratulations to Michigan’s Department of Labor for enforcing the punishment that this man is for once, entitled to.)

Today’s “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article entitled, “Detroiter sentenced to 36 months in prison for unemployment insurance fraud, gun possession,” posted on clickondetroit.com on January 8, 2019.

DETROIT – A Detroit man was sentenced to 36 months in prison Dec. 13 for having conspired to engage in mail fraud and being a felon in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.

According to court records, Charles H. Alexander, 54, of Detroit, participated in a multiyear scheme to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits.

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Larry Benson
Larry Benson is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances for Revenue Discovery and Recovery at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. In this role, Benson is responsible for developing partnerships for the tax and revenue and child support enforcement verticals. He focuses on embedded companies that have a need for third-party analytics to enhance their current offerings.