Oakland County man accused of ‘most egregious, brazen’ unemployment fraud scheme
The 27-year-old also is accused of bribing postal carriers to help with the scheme
FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WJRT) - An Oakland County man is facing federal charges for an elaborate scheme to defraud unemployment benefit systems in several states, bribe U.S. Postal Service employees and steal identities.
Prosecutors charged 27-year-old Andre Taylor Jr. of Farmington Hills with four counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft.
“The allegations here include some of the most egregious, brazen abuses of the unemployment fraud system we’ve seen this year,” said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider of Detroit. “While thousands of people in Michigan have lost their jobs and are struggling to put food on the table, con artists are stealing unemployment money away from them."
Investigators say Taylor launched his unemployment fraud scheme in April, shortly after the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program started offering $600 a week in benefits. He allegedly filed false claims for benefits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states to receive the federal money.
Several of those claims were filed under the names of other people without their knowledge or consent.
Taylor is accused of allowing each state to send prepaid debit cards with unemployment benefits to addresses he controls or to his family.
Some of the cards went to addresses along postal routes that Taylor was familiar with. He allegedly bribed carriers on those routes with cash to hold onto the cards rather than leave them at the listed address and pass them along to Taylor later.
Prosecutors say Taylor also paid postal carriers to obtain credit and debit cards with the names of residents along the postal routes, which he used at Meijer, Kroger and other stores to buy merchandise or gift cards.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Michigan is prosecuting the case with assistance from the U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Department of Labor.
Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.