Detroit man buys stolen social security numbers on dark web, gets government phones to sell

Dewan Williams facing 10 charges

Money (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DETROIT – A Detroit man purchased stolen social security numbers on the dark web, used them to submit 3,000 fraudulent Medicaid applications so he could qualify for free government cellphones, and then turned around to sell those phones in a scheme that almost cost the state $11 million, officials said.

How the scheme worked

Dewan Anton Williams, 47, of Detroit, is accused of going onto the dark web to purchase the social security numbers of identity theft victims. Officials said they later found personal information from about 7,000 people at Williams’ home.

He used the stolen information to submit nearly 3,000 fraudulent Medicaid applications in order to quality for free government cellphones, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Once Williams received the phones, he would activate and sell them for profit, officials said.

When they went to Williams’ home, authorities said they found about 150 new and pre-packaged SafeLink Wireless phones.

In total, the fraudulent application submissions cost the state of Michigan about $11 million in unnecessary payments, Nessel said. After the accounts were determined to be fraudulent, they were shut down, and the state recouped that money.


Williams is charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, three counts of identity theft, three counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and three counts of welfare fraud over $500.

The criminal enterprises charge is a 20-year felony, each identity theft charge is a five-year felony, each computer charge is a seven-year felony, and each welfare fraud charge is a four-year felony.

Williams was arraigned Sept. 29 at 36th District Court in Detroit and entered a not guilty plea.

He’s being held on a $100,000 personal recognizance bond.

A probable cause conference was held Wednesday (Oct. 5), and a preliminary examination is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 1

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.