Identity Theft Ring Indicted
for Unemployment Fraud and Conspiracy
Eight individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges relating to identity theft, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.
McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge James Vanderberg, Department of Labor - Office of Inspector General, and Steve Arwood, Director, Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Indicted were: Kenneth Dixon, 27, Carl Lesely, 24, Shalace Washington, 27, Rufus Washington, 24, Charles Durr, 23, all from Detroit, Michigan and Nakita Washington, 24, Darius Washington, 27, and Jamela Washington, 22, all from Warren, Michigan. Charges in the indictment include use of counterfeit access devices, aggravated identity theft, theft of government money, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.
The four count indictment charges that between October 2009 through April 2012, the defendants systematically engaged in a conspiracy to obtain the personal identification information of unsuspecting victims, and then used that information to submit fraudulent on-line claims for unemployment compensation benefits. Over 100 individuals were victimized, and over $400,000 was stolen. United States Attorney McQuade stated, "Technology makes it easier than ever to commit fraud, but technology also enables investigators to detect these schemes. Perpetrators of identity fraud should take note that they will be caught and prosecuted."
“People who willfully commit unemployment insurance fraud should know that we (the state of Michigan and the UIA) are serious about detecting and preventing fraud,” said UIA Director Steve Arwood. “Unemployment Insurance Fraud is a crime that affects everyone, by driving up taxes for businesses and threatening the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance system for those who really need it. We appreciate the great work of the U.S. Deparment Of Labor Inspector General in working with us to investigate and bring these cases to justice.”
“This indictment sends a clear message that combating unemployment insurance fraud remains a high priority for the Office of Inspector General. The defendants allegedly obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent unemployment benefits. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively investigate those who obtain benefits to which they are not entitled,” said James Vanderberg, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case was investigated by special agents of the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General with the assistance of the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys C. Barrington Wilkins and Darcey Jacobs.