Four people, including an imprisoned man, have been charged in Detroit in an unemployment insurance benefit scheme involving the theft of $2.2 million. Two of the defendants used some of the money to purchase luxury cars, authorities allege.
The criminal complaint charges Daeshawn Tamar Posey, 25, of Detroit; Chaz Duane Shields, 33, of Detroit; Cortney Shaquan Shields, 30, a federal prisoner in Pennsylvania and Brittany Levett Witherspoon, 25, of Warren. They face charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
Authorities allege the four filed more than 240 claims for fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits across at least 20 states and territories, resulting in more than $725,000 in losses to the state of Michigan and more than $1.5 million in losses to the state of California.
The criminal complaint alleges that Posey, Chaz Shields and Witherspoon filed a number of claims in their own names and others as well. They also used other people's social security numbers. Unemployment claims were also filed under Cortney Shields’ name while he was already in prison, which makes him ineligible for benefits.
Authorities also alleged that Cortney Shields passed on personal information of others to assist in the fraud.
The complaint alleges that Posey and Chaz Shields bought multiple luxury cars with cash and fraudulently obtained unemployment money.
“Taxpayer money diverted into the pockets of criminals means less money going to Michiganders who need help getting through this difficult time,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin in a statement.