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Independent Contractor

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

There are millions of independent contractors in the United States. Ordinarily, independent contractors can’t collect unemployment from their state unemployment insurance agency when they are out of work. This is because they are not employees and ordinarily do not pay unemployment taxes. But like many, they were severely impacted by the economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus. However, Congress changed these rules with the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Allowing for the first time ever starting March 2020, that unemployment benefits to be available to independent contractors, gig workers as well as Uber drivers and computer programmers. Heck, even gang members. Because what else would gang members be but independent contractors to qualify for unemployment benefits?

On May 10, 2023, the Eastern District Federal Court of Wisconsin announced that 30 members of the Milwaukee street gang Wild 100 were charged in a wide range of indictments including murder for hire, possession and sale of firearms, drug distribution, and possession of a machine gun. The commonality amongst the gang members? All of them also committed COVID-19 Unemployment Fraud.

It was a busy day in Milwaukee’s federal court. The indictment alleges that the conspirators wrongfully obtained millions of federal dollars through their fraudulent activities. While they made the standard COVID-19 fraud purchases like jewelry, vacations, and fancy cars. They also allocated fraudulently obtained funds to the purchase of guns, drugs and murder for hire contracts. Which is what Ronnell Bowman and Ronnie Jackson did. Bowman and Jackson were accused of arranging the murder of a person in exchange for money that was illicitly gained from fraudulent unemployment applications. Isn’t that independent contract work?

Great job by the Milwaukee Police Department

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Members of Milwaukee street gang ‘Wild 100s’ charged with mail fraud, accused of stealing millions, plotting a murder” published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel based on May 10, 2023

Federal prosecutors have brought charges against 30 members and affiliates of a Milwaukee street gang known as “Wild 100s,” alleging they secured millions of dollars by defrauding the government.

Two of the individuals, Ronnell Bowman and Ronnie Jackson, are accused of arranging and executing the April 2021 murder of a person, identified only as “N.B.” in a Wednesday news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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