Peace, Love & Serenity

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Sad fired businessman taking away his belongings from the financial district

Fraudsters often see their state’s unemployment programs as an opportunity to fraudulently receive funds by applying for benefits using stolen or fake information. (This is especially true during the coronavirus pandemic.)

Two Michigan residents have been charged for their roles in a scheme to defraud the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) of $1.8 million. Jermaine Rose and Serenity Poynter allegedly worked together to swindle Michigan’s UIA out of funds intended to provide unemployment assistance to those who have lost their jobs. (If you commit fraud together, you’ll do time together.)

Jermaine Rose worked for Michigan UIA as a Lead Claims Examiner. His job included reviewing, processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims. Rose purportedly abused his position to release payment on hundreds of potentially fraudulent claims.

Rose supposedly released the fraudulent payments by overriding the “fraud stops” the State’s computer system had flagged on these claims. (Leave it to unscrupulous humans to corrupt the integrity of a programmed system meant to ensure that underprivileged people are protected.)

By overriding the fraud stops, Rose allegedly cost the Michigan UIA over $1.1 million in federal and state funds. These are funds that would have greatly alleviated the financial burden placed on individuals due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  (If the allegations are true, Rose certainly tricked both his employer and the American taxpayer with his fraudulent wrongdoings.)

Rose purportedly attempted to release an additional $761,000 in fraudulent claims but his attempt was thwarted by the State of Michigan. He allegedly worked with co-conspirator Serenity Poynter of Detroit to carry out this scheme. Poynter is accused of filing over 25 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using variations of names and fake social security numbers. (I wonder if Serenity used ‘Peace’ or ‘Love’ as fake names.)

According to today’s fraud article, Poynter sought over $350,000 in unemployment benefits through numerous applications. While the State’s automated protection system was able to flag most of Poynter’s claims as fraudulent, Rose was allegedly able to override a majority of the fraud stops and release the requested funds. (I’d say this means Rose failed at his job of ensuring the legitimacy of claims. Sounds like a very thorny situation to be in.) 

Both Rose and Poynter are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. They are awaiting their respective upcoming court dates.

If you suspect that someone is committing unemployment fraud, you can submit a report to the appropriate state contact found on the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Michigan UIA employee, Detroit woman charged in $1.8M unemployment scam,” published by August 25, 2020.

Two people, including an employee of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, have been charged for their alleged role in a $1.8 million unemployment insurance fraud scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Jermaine Rose, 41, and Serenity Poynter, 36, have been charged in a scheme aimed at “defrauding the State of Michigan and the U.S. Government of funds earmarked for unemployment assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.