Detroit men, Warren woman help prison inmate submit 240 fake COVID unemployment claims

4 charged in $2.2 million scheme

Money. (Pexels)

DETROIT – Two Detroit men and a Warren woman helped a former Michigan resident who is currently in prison operate a $2.2 million scheme that involved submitting 240 fraudulent COVID unemployment insurance claims, officials said.

Court records show Cortney Daquan Shields, 33, and his co-conspirators -- Daeshawn Tamar Posey, 25, of Detroit; Chaz Duane Shields, 33, of Detroit; and Brittany Levett Witherspoon, 25, of Warren -- were involved in a fraud scheme from May 2020 through July 2021.

Officials said the group filed more than 240 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in more than 20 states and territories. They obtained more than $2.2 million worth of COVID unemployment benefits through the scheme, according to authorities.

Cortney Shields also obtained a fraudulent $20,833 paycheck protection program loan, court records show.

He participated in the scheme from within the Federal Correctional Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, according to officials. He was serving a sentence for an unrelated fraud case, they said.

Members of the conspiracy transferred portions of the proceeds to Cortney Shields via wire into his Bureau of Prisons commissary account, officials said.


Cortney Shields pleaded guilty Tuesday morning (May 10) to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

As part of his plea, he agreed to forfeit $26,794.11 seized from the commissary account

Posey, Chaz Shields, and Witherspoon were all charged in a related complaint, according to authorities.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.