Novi man sentenced to prison for using inmates' identities to steal unemployment money

A Novi man who used the identities of prison inmates to steal unemployment money will now spend more than four years behind bars.

Terrell Dwayne Mason, 40, also must pay $423,435 in restitution to the state of Michigan.

According to court records, from April 2020 to February 2021, Mason filed fraudulent unemployment claims using the identities of federal and state inmates. He got the inmates’ personal identifying information from websites on the dark web or from the inmates themselves by telling them that he would help them improve their credit ratings. 

"Terrell Mason fraudulently applied for benefits intended to assist workers forced to sit idle during the worst pandemic in a century," said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. "This investigation reflects our collective determination to root out and punish criminals who used a national emergency to steal from American taxpayers."

Mason pleaded guilty to both wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

"The significant sentence in this case underscores the seriousness of the offense. Terrell Mason was on parole when he filed dozens of fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims in the names of prisoners who were ineligible for benefits. We will continue to work with our law enforcement and state partners to investigate those who exploit the unemployment insurance system," said Special Agent-in-Charge Irene Lindow, Chicago Region, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General.