Detroit couple charged in $2.5 million unemployment fraud scheme

Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 2:37 PM EDT
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DETROIT, Mich. (WJRT) - A Detroit couple is accused of conspiring with a former state contractor to defraud the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency out of more than $2 million.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider announced fraud charges on Tuesday against 25-year-old Johnny Richardson and 27-year-old Micahia Taylor. The couple allegedly filed fraudulent unemployment benefits claims in Michigan and conspired with Brandi Hawkins to push the claims through the system.

Hawkins, a former contract employee for the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency, was charged for her role in the alleged scheme in July. She had access to state unemployment files and allegedly used that to release payments totaling more than $2 million.

Hawkins’ work for the state included reviewing, processing and verifying the legitimacy of unemployment insurance claims for the state. Richardson and Taylor are two of several alleged beneficiaries of the fraud scheme.

Several state and federal agencies are continuing to investigate the scheme.

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