Three sentenced in massive identity theft, unemployment insurance scam

Three people last week were charged with scamming taxpayers out of Michigan Unemployment benefits have been sentenced and will be required to repay approximately $160,000 in restitution.

Jamaal Cann, 29, of Shelby Township, Kellee Norfleet-Cann, 27, of Shelby Township, and Darnell Bailey, 28, of Dearborn, all pled guilty to felonies and have been sentenced by Judge Mary Chrzanowski in Macomb County's 16th Circuit Court.

"Unemployment Insurance is meant to protect Michigan families," said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. "Anyone attempting to game the system and take advantage of taxpayers will be held accountable. We will continue to work with Director Arwood to eliminate fraud in our taxpayer-funded programs."

Between February 2009 and April 2011 Jamaal Cann, with the assistance of Kellee Norfleet-Cann and Darnell Bailey, ran a complex identity theft scheme meant to defraud multiple state agencies, including the fraudulent collection of unemployment benefits. The co-conspirators filed paperwork with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) registering at least 19 fake companies with 170 fictitious employees.

After setting up fake companies, the defendants filed electronic claims for unemployment benefits under the names of some employees claiming to be laid off by the fake companies. The defendants then collected unemployment benefits by intercepting electronic debit cards issued by the UIA, at least 86 of which were mailed to abandoned homes in Southeastern Michigan listed by the defendants on UIA documents. The defendants then withdrew tens of thousands in benefit funds for their own personal use.

Investigations by the Department of Attorney General, upon referral from the UIA, revealed that although the identities of the employees were authentic, the companies and their employment rolls were fictitious. Schuette said the criminal operation involved massive identity theft to perpetrate the fraud. Of the 170 employees registered by the defendants with UIA, 40 were associated with the Michigan Department of Corrections; at least 16 were incarcerated, with three even serving life sentences, during the time claims were filed and benefits collected on their behalf. Other employees registered with the fake companies appear to be innocent victims of identity theft who likely had no knowledge of the criminal enterprise.

Jamall Cann pled guilty to one count of conducting a criminal enterprise and one count of Identity Theft, both felonies. He has been sentenced to three to 20 years in prison, and has been ordered to pay $159,908.60 in restitution as well as additional court fees.

Kellee Norfleet-Cann, wife of Jamall Cann, pled guilty to one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a felony. She has been sentenced to 90 days in jail, five years probation, and has been ordered to pay over $54,136.66 in restitution jointly and severally with Jamal Cann as a condition of probation as well as additional court fees.

Darnell Bailey pled guilty to one count false pretenses $1,000-$20,000 and one count possession of a financial transaction device, both felonies. He has been sentenced to two years probation and has been ordered to pay restitution of $97,771.84 jointly and severally with Jamal Cann, as well as additional court fees.

Information regarding identity theft can be going to http:// goo.gl/qcc1o.

Published: Mon, Aug 20, 2012

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