United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison said that James Mayfield, who lives in Detroit, was given a two-year and six-month prison sentence today for his part in a plan to scam state unemployment insurance agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayfield is the last of 15 people who have been sentenced for their parts in schemes to cheat jobless insurance that happened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Special Agent-in-Charge of the Great Lakes Region for the Department of Labor – Office of the Inspector General (DOL-OIG), Irene Lindow, joined Ison in making the announcement. So did Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the Detroit Feld Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Director Julia Dale of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Court records show that from February 1, 2020, to January 26, 2021, Sharodney Harrison planned schemes to cheat several states and the federal government by filing false unemployment insurance claims with other people’s personal information without their permission or knowledge. Harrison’s plans to get rich were helped along by a number of different methods.
Five of the other criminals went to California between August and September 2020 and lied on their jobless claims using California mailing addresses, including their AirBnB address. Nearly 600 false unemployment insurance claims were filed in 19 states because of Harrison’s schemes. These schemes cost state unemployment insurance offices $2,020,851. It would have cost $6,920,388 to pay for all the false claims that were accepted.
Harrison was looked into after the FBI and DOL-OIG looked into more than 100 jobless claims that were sent to the State of Michigan jobless Insurance Agency from two IP addresses that were linked to homes in Detroit. After this probe, 9 people were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and/or aggravated identity theft all at the same time. All of them have admitted crime and been given the following sentences:
- Sharodney Harrison Sentenced to 60 months in prison
- Seandrea Crawford Sentenced to 30 months in prison
- Sharrell Harrison Sentenced to 42 months in prison
- Sha-Ron Harrison Sentenced to 46 months in prison
- Sharease Harrison Sentenced to 26 months in prison
- Edward Taylor Sentenced to 54 months in prison
- James Mayfield Sentenced to 30 months in prison
- Frank Jennings Sentenced to 24 months in prison
- Sharonda Griffin Sentenced to 26 months in prison
Because of this probe, 6 people were charged with either conspiracy to commit wire fraud or wire fraud. Everyone has admitted guilt and been given a punishment. In addition to their prison terms, the suspects were told to pay back more than $2 million to the people they fraudmed. According to U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison, they are still looking into and prosecuting people who used the COVID-19 pandemic to get rich at the cost of taxpayers, without caring about how it affected the people whose identities they stole.
“Sharodney Harrison worked with twelve other people, including James Mayfield, to steal more than $2 million in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits that Harrison and his partners did not deserve from 19 state workforce agencies.” “Harrison and his partners filed false UI claims in the names of identity theft victims, getting rich by cheating a program that was meant to help struggling American workers during a global pandemic that had never been seen before,” said Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge, Great Lakes Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. “We and our law enforcement partners are committed to finding and prosecuting the criminals who took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by using stolen identities to get pandemic UI benefits.”
The sentencing today is the last step in the FBI’s plan to hold a big network responsible for cheating unemployment insurance companies during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Cheyvoryea Gibson, the FBI’s Special Agent in Charge in Michigan. “Giving false information to get relief funds without permission is a theft of public funds.” The FBI is still committed to working with our network of law enforcement partners to find and punish people who try to steal from government aid programs and make money for themselves.
UIA Director Julia Dale said, “The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is proud of its part in helping to find this group of thieves who were bold enough to steal from taxpayers across the country.” “Our staff works closely with state and federal law enforcement to refer cases for investigation, stop the theft of taxpayer money, and hold fraudsters accountable. This is true whether the crime happens in Michigan or includes programs in other states.”