Novi man allegedly used prison inmate IDs in Michigan to steal $300,000 in unemployment

A Novi man who allegedly used his relationship with an employee from Michigan's unemployment agency to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars was charged with committing several financial crimes.

Terrell Dwayne Mason allegedly filed unemployment claims with the names of current inmates in the state to receive benefits from the insurance agency.

He was arrested in Oklahoma for violating his parole after serving time for a federal conviction in another fraud case.

The 39-year-old was hit with aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering that attempted to steal close to a million dollars from the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.

The state announced the charges alongside attorneys from the U.S., agents from the labor department in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday. 

Mason allegedly used the identities of inmates in state and federal prisons in Michigan to file claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. A release from the investigators says he filed more than 40 fraudulent claims.

"...the claims resulted in payments of over $300,000 and would have paid over $800,000 if not detected by law enforcement."

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Mason allegedly used his relationship with an employee at the unemployment agency to file the claims, according to the release.

The suspect was living on supervised release in Oklahoma after serving a prison sentence for different mail fraud charges. He was tracked there by the U.S. Marshals Service on a warrant for allegations he had violated the terms of his release.

Reports of fraud of all kinds have been a common occurrence during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Michigan's attorney general has continued sending out warnings about phone scams and elaborate thefts that have robbed people of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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One Michigan family lost their life savings after people posing as members of LARA convinced a woman she was in danger of losing her physical therapist's license.

And Thursday morning, Attorney General Dana Nessel issued another consumer alert about scammers impersonating utility workers.

"This is important enough to bear repeating: it is imperative people are aware that bad actors will stop at nothing to scam unsuspecting customers," said Nessel.