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8 Indicted After Identity Theft, Unemployment Benefits Scam Busted

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DETROIT (WWJ) - Eight individuals were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges relating to identity theft, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced Friday.

Charges in the indictment include use of counterfeit access devices, aggravated identity theft, theft of government money, and conspiracy to commit those offenses.

Indicted were: 24-year-old Kenneth Dixon, 24-year-old Carl Lesely, 27-year-old Shalace Washington, 24-year-old Rufus Washington, and 23-year-old Charles Durr, all from Detroit; as well as 24-year-old Nakita Washington, 27-year-old Darius Washington, and 22-year-old Jamela Washington, all from Warren.

The four count indictment charges that between October 2009 through April 2012, the defendants systematically engaged in a conspiracy to obtain the personal identification information of unsuspecting victims, and then used that information to submit fraudulent on-line claims for unemployment compensation benefits.

McQuade said over 100 individuals were victimized and over $400,000 was stolen.

“Technology makes it easier than ever to commit fraud, but technology also enables investigators to detect these schemes. Perpetrators of identity fraud should take note that they will be caught and prosecuted,” McQuade said in a release.

Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Arwood said people who willfully commit unemployment insurance fraud should know that “the state of Michigan and the UIA are serious about detecting and preventing fraud.”

“Unemployment insurance fraud is a crime that affects everyone, by driving up taxes for businesses and threatening the integrity of the unemployment insurance system for those who really need it. We appreciate the great work of the U.S. Department Of Labor Inspector General in working with us to investigate and bring these cases to justice,” Arwood said in a statement.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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