LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel created a new task force to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud in the unemployment insurance program amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Officials say criminals are exploiting the unemployment system by filing fraudulent claims and illegally collecting benefits. The task force plans to use IP addresses and financial records to identify and prosecute the fraudsters.
“I’m proud to partner with the professionals from these other agencies to address this significant problem,” said Nessel. “To steal money from this program intended to support households during a major global crisis is beyond reprehensible.”
In addition to prosecution the task force will also attempt to recover the illegally obtained benefits.
Officials say this year’s surge in unemployment claims from Michigan families due to the COVID-19 crisis and the urgency to process the claims created opportunities for fraudsters to exploit the system.
The task force will be led by Nessel, the U.S. Department of Labor, Michigan State Police (MSP) and the Michigan departments of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Management & Budget and Treasury.
“Whether it be a natural disaster or global pandemic, law enforcement knows that criminal actors use times of crisis to exploit systems and carry out their criminal actions,” said MSP Director Colonel Joe Gasper. “Our message to those who wish to fraudulently benefit from the COVID-19 crisis is that we’re watching and you will be caught.”
Individuals can report fraud in the unemployment insurance program online here.