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A Sucker for Fraud

Businessman fired, leaving his office with his personal effects
Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Unemployment insurance provides benefits and wage replacement through the state to those who are unable to secure employment through no fault of their own. Of course, this excludes fraudsters who are looking to make a quick buck off those less fortunate. Fraudsters often lie about their employment status or use the identities of others to try to obtain benefits that they are not entitled to. (Sadly, that is not a surprise.)

Samuel Baker of Southfield, Mich., has been accused of attempting to defraud the state of Michigan and the state of Pennsylvania’s unemployment insurance programs. He allegedly attempted to receive unemployment benefits which were intended to provide assistance to those adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. (Fraudsters view exploiting the vulnerable as easy as taking candy from a baby. Ironically, this perpetrator turned out to be a sucker for fraud.)

Baker was involved in a multi-state insurance fraud scheme which defrauded both Pennsylvania and Michigan out of tens of thousands of dollars. He used the names and information of other individuals to file fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance in Pennsylvania. Baker fraudulently obtained $150,000 in benefits from those bogus applications. (And obviously, he didn’t deserve a dime of the money he received.)

Multiple fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were also filed through the state of Michigan. Baker used fake social security numbers and drivers licenses to apply for benefits, ultimately defrauding Michigan’s unemployment benefits program out of more than $37,000. (This fraudster couldn’t stop at defrauding one state, he had to aim for two.)

All of Baker’s fraudulent applications requested that the benefits be paid through debit cards, which were sent to different addresses he had access to in Michigan. The unemployment insurance payments were loaded onto these debit cards every two weeks. (How convenient. Fraudsters can get their stolen funds delivered right to their door.)

These stolen unemployment funds were used by Baker for personal expenses. He made multiple withdrawals or used multiple cards nearly every day in July. According to prosecutors, one of the most extravagant purchases Baker made was a $45,000 Rolex watch. (Why is it that fraudsters never seem to spend money on sensible things like groceries or electric bills?)

Baker exploited a program meant to aid those who are unable to find work or who have been laid off from their jobs. (Unemployment insurance is especially important at a time where so many are out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic.)

Prosecutors will ask that Baker pay restitution to the Michigan and Pennsylvania unemployment programs he defunded. The money he received was taken out of the pockets of honest taxpayers. It was intended to help struggling individuals and families, not make selfish criminals richer.

To report unemployment insurance fraud in your state, view the Department of Labor’s website.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Oakland Co. Man Accused In Multi-State Unemployment Fraud Scheme” published by Yahoo News on August 21, 2020.

DETROIT, MI – An Oakland County man has been accused by U.S. attorneys for his role in a multi-state unemployment insurance fraud scheme aimed at defrauding the State of Michigan, the State of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Government of funds earmarked for unemployment assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, United States Attorney Matthew Schneider announced Friday.

Prosecutors said Samuel George Baker, 37, of Southfield, filed numerous fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits in the names of various individuals in state of Pennsylvania, causing over $150,000 in fraudulent UI benefits to be paid out unlawfully.

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