U.S. Attorney: two Michigan suspects stole $4M, filed 470 unemployment claims in five states

Two Metro Detroit residents have been charged after allegedly stealing millions of dollars from filing several hundred fraudulent unemployment claims.

Tauheed Wilder, 39, of Detroit, and Shuqueni Franklin, 30, of Shelby Township committed wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering, a release from the Department of Justice said. Both were arrested on Dec. 7. 

Wilder and Franklin allegedly filed 470 claims for benefits from Michigan and four other states. The thefts led to $13 million in attempted losses and $4 million in actual losses.

RELATED: 4 charged with scamming Michigan, California unemployment agencies out of more than $2M

Using both their own names and the stolen identities, the suspects filed "numerous false claims" with fake social security numbers. They were seen on surveillance cameras at banks using ATM cards with the names of individuals whose identities had been stolen.

The charges track in line with a familiar pattern of fraud that has spiked during the pandemic.

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

As billions in insurance benefits became available after COVID-19 was confirmed in the U.S., law enforcement has seen a spike in fraudulent complaints.

"Those who steal unemployment benefits steal from all taxpayers and jeopardize the safety net Congress enacted to protect employees who lost jobs during the pandemic," said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima M. Mohsin.

"Through the tireless work of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force, we are bringing these criminals to justice and the Task Force partners should be commended for their efforts," said Julia Dale, the director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. "I would urge anyone who knows of any UI fraud scheme to go to Michigan.gov/UIA and click on the Report Fraud link."