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Former Michigan UIA Claims Manager Sentenced In COVID-19 Fraud Scheme

(CBS DETROIT) -- A former claims manager with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency is sentenced to two years for his involvement in a $1 million COVID-19 fraud scheme, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced.

Officials say Jermaine Rose, 43, worked in the department in April 2020 when he used his credentials to approve false claims. Rose worked with individuals who would submit the claims using other people's names or fictitious people. In exchange, he was paid between $50 and $150 per claim.

In addition, some of the people worked with Rose to approve legitimate claims and receive the benefits on an accelerated schedule.

Rose pleaded guilty on April 22, 2022.

Officials estimated an actual loss of $1,011,000 related to this case.

"Jermaine Rose, while employed as a State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency lead claims examiner, abused his authority to allow the payment of more than $920,000 in fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. Rose exploited his position to release payment on the claims in exchange for kickbacks from his co-conspirators," Special Agent-in-Charge Irene Lindow said in a press release.

"We will continue to work with our law enforcement and state partners to investigate those who exploit the unemployment insurance system."

In December, a report by UIA says the state likely paid about $8.5 billion in fraudulent jobless benefits over a 19-month period during the pandemic.

The figure, provided by Deloitte, came more than a year after the firm said the agency expected fraud losses in the "hundreds of millions" of dollars. State auditors have since reported that the agency improperly paid $3.9 billion to claimants who were later deemed ineligible.

Following the report, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order to form an unemployment fraud response team to investigate and prosecute those who steal benefits.

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