Man Charged in $180,000 Unemployment Fraud Scheme

By , WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) A Southfield, Michigan man is facing federal charges, accused of filing bogus unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has named 37-year-old Samuel George Baker in a criminal complaint that says he filed numerous fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits in Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Investigators say Baker used fake Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses to file claims, and allegedly received more than $180,000 in benefits, including $150,000 from the state of Pennsylvania.  

“At a time when thousands of people are out of work because of the pandemic, Samuel Baker is charged with stealing unemployment benefits that should have gone to Michiganders trying to feed their families. Anyone who steals unemployment funds steals from the people of Michigan,” said Matthew U.S. Attorney Schneider, announcing the case against Baker, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on Wednesday.

It is alleged that during the application process, Baker requested the benefits to be paid out via debit card, and then caused the cards to be mailed to various addresses here in Michigan. The cards were then loaded with additional UI payments every two weeks, throughout the duration of the scheme. According the complaint, Baker began making near-daily withdrawals in July of 2020, using multiple cards each day.

The feds say Baker used some of the money to buy a $45,000 Rolex watch.  

“Mr. Baker's scheme exploited a fund designed specifically to support Americans during this incredibly challenging time,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Thanks to the hard work of all of the agencies involved in this investigation, those individuals who need the support at this critical time will be able to receive it.”

The investigation is ongoing and an indictment could be sought at a future date, Schneider's office said. 

The investigation is being conducted jointly by the FBI, the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General, and the Bloomfield Township Police Department.

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