Four defendants charged with large-scale unemployment insurance benefit fraud scheme

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Posted at 2:55 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 14:55:42-04

(WXYZ) — The Department has announced charges against four defendants who allegedly participated in a large-scale unemployment insurance benefit fraud scheme.

A criminal complaint alleges that the suspects were involved in a $2.2 million dollar scheme that includes mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Daeshawn Tamar Posey, 25, of Detroit; Chaz Duane Shields, 33 of Detroit, Cortney Shaquan Shields, 30 of Warren, and Brittany Levett Witherspoon, 25 of Warren, are charged in the case.

According to the complaint, Posey, Chaz Shields, Cortney Shields, and Witherspoon are responsible for filing over 240 claims for fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits across at least 20 states and territories, causing more than $725,000 in losses to the state of Michigan and more than $1,500,000 in losses to the state of California.

It is alleged that the defendants received benefits deposited into a variety of bank accounts, some connected to pre-paid debit cards.

While already incarcerated, Cortney Shields allegedly exchanged messages with co-conspirators to facilitate the personal information of other individuals to submit fraudulent unemployment insurance claims.

“Taxpayer money diverted into the pockets of criminals means less money going to Michiganders who need help getting through this difficult time,” said Acting US Attorney Mohsin. “These arrests reflect our ongoing commitment to investigating these schemes and bringing the people who commit these crimes to justice.” "An important mission of the Office of Inspector General is to investigate allegations relating to unemployment insurance fraud. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate these types of allegations,” stated Irene Lindow, Special Agent-in-Charge, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

"The FBI and its law enforcement partners will continue to devote significant resources to prevent unemployment insurance fraud and to hold accountable those who have already stolen taxpayer dollars meant for out-of-work Americans," said Timothy Waters, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Detroit Field Office.

Special Agent-in-Charge Andre Martin, Great Lakes Area Field Office, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General said, “Today’s charges represent our commitment to work with our law enforcement partners to maintain the integrity and trust in the U.S. Postal Service and critical benefit programs.”

When the investigation is completed, a determination will be made whether to seek a felony indictment.