Unemployment insurance scam cost taxpayers $550,000



(The Center Square ) – A Detroit resident pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $550,000 of taxpayer money with the help of a former Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency contract employee, announced U.S. Attorney Dawn N. Ison.

William Haynes, 26, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith. Haynes admitted to engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Autumn Mims, a former contract UIA examiner for Michigan. Mims’s duties included reviewing, processing, and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims.

Mims previously pleaded guilty to the same charge and is currently awaiting sentencing before Goldsmith.

Court records say shortly after Mims began working with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency in August 2020, she used her insider access to fraudulently process claims in the names of third parties without their knowledge or authorization.

Haynes altered direct deposit information for third-party unemployment insurance assistance; accessed third-party UIA claim information without authorization; completed false and fraudulent certifications for third-party unemployment insurance assistance benefits; opened unauthorized bank accounts in the names of third parties; provided stolen personal identifying information to his co-conspirator, Mims; conducted cash withdrawals of unemployment insurance assistance issued in the names of third parties; conducted financial transactions using unemployment insurance assistance funds issued in the names of third parties; and received non-cash benefits from his involvement in the conspiracy, including rent payments made by his co-conspirator Mims.

Court records say the conspiracy cost Michigan taxpayers more than $550,000 in fraudulent unemployment assistance payments. Haynes has agreed to be held accountable for $448,614 in restitution.

Sentencing is set for Nov. 28, 2023, before Goldsmith. Haynes faces up to 20 years imprisonment.

“We are committed to prosecuting those who engage in schemes to steal public funds,” Ison said in a statement. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice, whether they are insiders who abuse their positions of trust or outsiders who enable that abuse.”

Assistant United States Attorney Andrew J. Yahkind is prosecuting the case. The investigation is being conducted by the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Unemployment Insurance Agency, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

“Add William Haynes to the growing list of fraudsters that UIA’s investigators have identified as brazenly violating the trust Michiganders put in an unemployment system that is their lifeline when they lost work,” UIA Director Julia Dale said in a statement. “That Mr. Haynes found a willing accomplice within the UIA to help carry out his devious scheme is also appalling. Today’s guilty plea should put bad actors on notice that the UIA won’t tolerate the theft of public funds. Our nearly 50 convictions so far prove they won’t get away with defrauding taxpayers.”

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