How feds took down a Detroit gang linked to COVID pandemic relief fraud

Gang accused of stealing nearly half a million dollars

Criminal gangs in Detroit have a reputation for street violence, but one gang tried moving its crimes from the streets to the internet.

DETROIT – Criminal gangs in Detroit have a reputation for street violence, but one gang tried moving its crimes from the streets to the internet.

That was until one alleged gang member’s flashy bling, among other things, got them busted. A photo shows Brandon Bowditch cashing out stolen COVID relief money at an ATM, according to federal agents.

Bowditch was wearing a “lucky” four-leaf clover pendant. Investigators believe the pendant the 31-year-old Detroit gang member was wearing was paid for with stolen COVID relief money.

“Gangs in Detroit are gonna go where the money is,” Detroit Crime Commission Executive Director Andy Arena said.

Federal investigators said a street gang called “Don’t Worry About It” used the internet to steal nearly half a million dollars in COVID relief money from all over the country.

Read: Feds: Dearborn Heights man buys seaside condo with COVID relief money; wife runs $10.6M pharmacy scheme

How investigators say the scam went down

Federal investigators said gang members used stolen identities of real Americans, went online and applied for COVID pandemic unemployment insurance in at least eight states.

Those states include Michigan, Arizona, California, Hawaii and even in U.S. territory Guam.

Benefit money, in the form of debit cards, was mailed to the gang members’ Detroit homes. The cards were then cashed out at area ATMs.

“Certainly the unemployment insurance system had a number of ways for these guys to steal money,” Arena said.

Arena is a former FBI agent and said the case does not surprise him at all.

“But they get caught. They’re not as smart as the system,” Arena said.

According to court documents, the gang used the same Detroit phone numbers and addresses for unemployment benefit money in several states. Federal officials said that led to the bust of Bowditch.

Bowditch is currently out on bond facing mail fraud and wire fraud.


You can view a PDF of the criminal complaint below:


Have a case you’d like us to look into? Reach the Local 4 investigative team at 313-962-9348, or email Karen Drew at kdrew@wdiv.com.



About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.