Oakland Co. Man Accused In Multi-State Unemployment Fraud Scheme

DETROIT, MI — An Oakland County man has been accused by U.S. attorneys for his role in a multi-state unemployment insurance fraud scheme aimed at defrauding the State of Michigan, the State of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Government of funds earmarked for unemployment assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, United States Attorney Matthew Schneider announced Friday.

Prosecutors said Samuel George Baker, 37, of Southfield, filed numerous fraudulent applications for unemployment insurance benefits in the names of various individuals in state of Pennsylvania, causing over $150,000 in fraudulent UI benefits to be paid out unlawfully.

“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," said U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider. "Anyone who steals unemployment funds steals from the people of Michigan."

Prosecutors also said 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 in Michigan. The cards were then loaded with additional UI payments every two weeks, throughout the duration of the scheme, prosecutors said.

According the complaint, Baker began making near-daily withdrawals in July 2020, using multiple cards each day. Baker is also accused of using proceeds from his crimes to purchase at least one piece of high-end jewelry—a rare, $45,000 Rolex watch, prosecutors said.

Baker filed multiple fraudulent Michigan unemployment insurance claims, prosecutors said, using false social security numbers and fake driver’s licenses. Investigation into this aspect of Baker’s scheme remains ongoing, prosecutors said.

Baker has already received more than $37,000 in benefits from his Michigan unemployment claims, according to prosecutors.

“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.”

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch