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3 metro Detroit residents charged in unemployment insurance benefit fraud schemes

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Posted at 10:24 AM, Jan 29, 2021

(WXYZ) — Three metro Detroit residents have been charged in unemployment insurance benefit fraud schemes.

Mitchacole Johnson, 44, of Shelby Township and Larry Witherspoon, 45, of Harper Woods were charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

According to a criminal complaint, Johnson and Witherspoon allegedly filed at least 66 claims for fraudulent Michigan unemployment insurance benefits, causing a loss to the state of over $150,000.

Additionally, Johnson and Witherspoon reportedly filed dozens of complaints in other states, including California, Arizona and Nevada, causing additional losses in excess of $300,000.

Both Johnson and Witherspoon are alleged to have filed their claims using other people’s Social Security Numbers. The complaint alleges that the pair had the benefits deposited into a variety of bank accounts, some connected to pre-paid debit cards.

Another complaint charges Jordan Armstrong, 28, of Detroit, with wire fraud, fraud in connection with access devices, and aggravated identity theft. Armstrong was arrested on January 20, 2021.

According to the complaint, Armstrong has filed fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits on behalf of individuals in Michigan, California, and Pennsylvania. It is alleged that Armstrong did so using these individuals’ Social Security Numbers, and that he did so without their permission.

Armstrong is allegedly responsible for as many as 29 fraudulent Michigan unemployment insurance claims; the total value is alleged to be more than $180,000.