Error blamed for unemployment fraud charges

Posted at 6:15 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 18:15:48-04

Thousands of people who filed for unemployment insurance benefits they believed they deserved, later found themselves charged with fraud. Why? It may be the result of using a computer, not people to investigate fraud.

Rep. Sandy Levin (MI-09) hosted a press conference on Friday with individuals he says have been falsely accused of fraud by an automated system implemented by Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. He says there are tens of thousands of victims.

They were accused of fraud when the state started using an automated computer system in 2013 to identify discrepancies. If the computer raised red flags, it often lead to charges, garnished wages, and fines for often innocent people. Last week, Levin wrote to Gov. Rick Snyder urging him to review cases.

Just before the press conference, Levin got a response to his letter from the state. Some action has been taken. The state now has people reviewing cases before charges are filed.

He says older cases impacted before this change need to be reviewed.

"The Governor needs to now take responsibility for the mistakes that were made, and work to review and reimburse residents where appropriate,” Levin said.

“The UIA is complying with Federal Law,” said the letter from the Michigan Talent Agency Director, Stephanie Comai, to Levin. “Please note that each claimant has the right to protest or appeal any agency decision at multiple levels and there are ample opportunities for due process."

The state said it is working on a plan to do review older cases that may be questionable. The plan will be submitted to the Department of Labor.