DETROIT – Federal officials have charged 14 people from Wayne and Macomb counties in connection with a fraud scheme to steal COVID unemployment benefits.
The indictment alleges that nine of the 14 people conspired together to commit wire fraud by filing unemployment insurance claims in the names of people who didn’t know their names were being used. Some claims were filed for people who weren’t eligible for benefits, often in several states on behalf of the same person, authorities said.
“These defendants are charged with exploiting the pandemic to steal unemployment benefits earmarked for the people of the State of Michigan for their own personal gain,” acting United States Attorney Saima Mohsin said. “These allegations are serious, and my office is committed to prosecuting any person who attempts to use the COVID-19 crisis to defraud the people of Michigan or the United States.”
Here are the nine people who were charged in the federal indictment:
- Sharodney Harrison, 36, of Detroit
- Seandrea Crawford, 27, of Detroit
- Sharrell Harrison, 33, of Eastpointe
- Sha-Ron Harrison, 31, of Harper Woods
- Sharease Harrison, 35 of Detroit
- Edward Taylor, 36, of Detroit
- James Mayfied, 36, of Detroit
- Frank Jennings, 43, of Dearborn Heights
- Sharonda Griffin, 31, of Center Line
These five people were charged in criminal complaints in related cases:
- Brandi Randall, 35, of Detroit, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
- Eric Matthews, 27, of Detroit, is charged with wire fraud.
- Lenora Calliway, 35, of Highland Park, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
- Steven Johnson, 32, of Detroit, is charged with wire fraud.
- Tyshia Coleman, 37, of Detroit, is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Another criminal complaint charges Sharodney Harrison with felon in possession of a firearm.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the FBI has investigated criminals from Michigan and across the country who found ways to steal from unemployment insurance programs,” said Timothy Waters, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit field office. “Unfortunately, the conduct alleged in these indictments is not unique and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars meant for Americans throughout the country.”
“Many Michiganders have had to rely on unemployment benefits during these difficult economic times due to the pandemic and taking those benefits illegally hurts the workers who need them the most,” said Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Since 2020, 37 people have been charged with federal crimes linked to pandemic unemployment insurance fraud in the Eastern District of Michigan. Six have entered guilty pleas, and the other 31 cases are pending, officials said.
Altogether, the 37 people are accused of submitting $20 million worth of fraudulent pandemic unemployment insurance claims.