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Party Planning

Unemployment-Unemployment Insurance-10
Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Christopher Niebel owned and operated a tax preparation service called Tax Guy Chris. Niebel also worked seasonally as a manager for Party City selling party supplies. Fraudsters love a party? Through his employment at Party City, Niebel had access to the files of individuals who had worked or applied to work at the company. These files included social security numbers, dates of birth, and employment verification forms for Party City. Sometime in 2019, Niebel stole these files containing the personal identifying information and filed these documents away for his future use. That’s planning ahead. Niebel was ready when congress passed the CARES Act in April of 2020.

Niebel used the PII’s he had stolen from Party City in a scheme to defraud the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency by submitting fictitious claims for those benefits. Niebel intentionally used the PII of individuals who were not from Michigan in submitting these claims, correctly surmising that such individuals would be unlikely to have submitted their own unemployment insurance claims in Michigan and thus making detection less likely. Probably thought he could use them later. Niebel opened numerous bank accounts in Michigan in order to capture the funds, which were wired to those accounts.
After capturing the pandemic unemployment benefits from these fraudulent applications, Niebel spent the money on a variety of personal expenses, including food, lodging, lottery tickets, and casino gambling. Maybe even a party or two. In total, Niebel obtained approximately $512,000 in pandemic unemployment assistance funds to which he was not entitled.

On February 21, 2024, Niebel pled guilty to unemployment fraud.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Tax Guy Chris’ pleads guilty to stealing $500K in insurance fraud scheme” published by The Detroit news on February 21, 2024.

An Allen Park-based former tax preparer pleaded guilty Tuesday to fraud and identity charges in connection with an insurance fraud scheme. Christopher Niebel, 45, used stolen identities to submit false claims for unemployment insurance benefits during the early pandemic, racking up nearly half a million dollars in claims, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said in a statement.
Niebel offered tax preparation services under the name of “Tax Guy Chris,” in Allen Park and worked seasonally as a manager for Party City. He used his management role to access files on other people who had worked or applied to work at Party City, including paperwork from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s I-9 employment verification form, according to the release.

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