Peace, Love & Serenity

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Sad fired businessman taking away his belongings from the financial district

Fraudsters often see their state’s unemployment programs as an opportunity to fraudulently receive funds by applying for benefits using stolen or fake information. (This is especially true during the coronavirus pandemic.)

Two Michigan residents have been charged for their roles in a scheme to defraud the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) of $1.8 million. Jermaine Rose and Serenity Poynter allegedly worked together to swindle Michigan’s UIA out of funds intended to provide unemployment assistance to those who have lost their jobs. (If you commit fraud together, you’ll do time together.)

Jermaine Rose worked for Michigan UIA as a Lead Claims Examiner. His job included reviewing, processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims. Rose purportedly abused his position to release payment on hundreds of potentially fraudulent claims.

Rose supposedly released the fraudulent payments by overriding the “fraud stops” the State’s computer system had flagged on these claims. (Leave it to unscrupulous humans to corrupt the integrity of a programmed system meant to ensure that underprivileged people are protected.)

By overriding the fraud stops, Rose allegedly cost the Michigan UIA over $1.1 million in federal and state funds. These are funds that would have greatly alleviated the financial burden placed on individuals due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  (If the allegations are true, Rose certainly tricked both his employer and the American taxpayer with his fraudulent wrongdoings.)

Rose purportedly attempted to release an additional $761,000 in fraudulent claims but his attempt was thwarted by the State of Michigan. He allegedly worked with co-conspirator Serenity Poynter of Detroit to carry out this scheme. Poynter is accused of filing over 25 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using variations of names and fake social security numbers. (I wonder if Serenity used ‘Peace’ or ‘Love’ as fake names.)

According to today’s fraud article, Poynter sought over $350,000 in unemployment benefits through numerous applications. While the State’s automated protection system was able to flag most of Poynter’s claims as fraudulent, Rose was allegedly able to override a majority of the fraud stops and release the requested funds. (I’d say this means Rose failed at his job of ensuring the legitimacy of claims. Sounds like a very thorny situation to be in.) 

Both Rose and Poynter are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They are awaiting their respective upcoming court dates.

If you suspect that someone is committing unemployment fraud, you can submit a report to the appropriate state contact found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Michigan UIA employee, Detroit woman charged in $1.8M unemployment scam,” published by August 25, 2020.

Two people, including an employee of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, have been charged for their alleged role in a $1.8 million unemployment insurance fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Jermaine Rose, 41, and Serenity Poynter, 36, have been charged in a scheme aimed at “defrauding the State of Michigan and the U.S. Government of funds earmarked for unemployment assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

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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.