What to Do if You Are Accused of Fraud by the Michigan Unemployment Agency

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Jump in Unemployment Fraud Cases

State of Michigan employees that investigate fraud for the Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) have told me that the amount of fraud cases has greatly increased. No doubt that part of the reason for this is because of the high unemployment rates that Michigan has been experiencing. State employees have to follow certain guidelines when making the determination that there has been fraud. Recently, there has been of changes in these guidelines. I have been told that this is part of the reason that there is such an increase in the number of Fraud cases. These changes mean that many more people are being accused of fraud than used to be under the old guidelines.

Different Issues Where Fraud Is Found

In the fraud cases that I have handled, the state agents have relied on many different reasons as well as different issues for alleging fraud. I have seen people accused of fraud based on the issue of separation. They might have said that they were laid off and the Employer comes back and says that the Claimant quit. I had one client that had told the agency that he had quit for personal reasons. They gave him unemployment because the UIA agent that he filed with said it was a lay off. Then the UIA came back later when they found out he had quit for personal reasons and said my client lied. We were able to get a good decision in this case because it was the UIA’s mistake.

Others have been accused of fraud under the availability or ability provision. One of my clients was accused because she was getting unemployment and she applied for Social Security Disability. The UIA said that there was intentional misrepresentation. The reasoning was that if a person applies for Disability, the person has to say that they are disabled from doing full time work. When my client did eventually get Disability, she immediately called the UIA and told them. They then decided that she was misrepresenting that she was able to work all that time. Of course, my client was not trying to deceive the UIA. The judge gave us a good decision in this case.

Anonymous Poll

Have you ever lied to the Unemployment Agency

  • Never
  • Yes, but only on little things.
  • Yes, on big things.
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The Big Issue: Misreporting

Without question, most of the fraud cases that I have dealt have been because the Claimant did not report properly to Marvin. In making a determination that there is fraud, the Agency looks for several things. They ask:

• How big a mistake was the error? What percentage was the difference between what the Claimant reported and what the Employer reported?
• How many times did the Claimant misreport?
• Over how long a period of time did the Claimant misreport?
• Did the Claimant state that they were scared or they needed the money?

The UIA will look at the reports to Marvin as well as your written statements to the agency. They will send out a Request for Information regarding possible fraud. If you do not fill this out, they will probably take that as an admission of guilt. In some cases (though not all), an agency representative may call and ask some questions about their suspicions of fraud.


Steps of Protest/Appeal

How to Avoid a Fraud Accusation?

So, what can be done to avoid this mess? There are ways to completely avoid it. In my experience, most people have no idea that they have made a mistake until it comes back to bite them. But there are some things that you can do to make it better.

The first thing is ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH to the best of your ability. Crossing your fingers is not going to help. I am not sure the UIA believes in little white lies. If you find out that you misreported something, you should contact the agency to explain what happened. (Keep a record of who you talked to, when, and what they said.) Contact them as soon as you can to explain. The longer you wait, the greater the possibility that they will say that it was an INTENTIONAL misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is not as bad as intentional misrepresentation. They will both cause you problems, but the intentional kind will bring a penalty of as much as four time the amount of overpayment.

Telling the truth means two things. Obviously, it means that what you say is accurate. But the law puts a greater responsibility on us all beyond that. You need to give full information when asked for it. If you OMIT information purposely the Agency will believe that you did it to mislead them. That is why people swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

So, fraud is found when people make an intentional misstatement of fact (a lie). Or fraud is found when they omit or do not offer a relevant fact. So, tell the truth, and tell the whole truth.

Show Your Story Is Consistent

Secondly, you should always keep a copy of everything you say to the agency. This is important in case something is lost by the agency, which happens all the time. For Fraud cases, this is extremely important. One of the ways that the UIA or a judge decides whether a person is lying is based on the consistency of their story. Often a person writes something and then months later writes another statement. Both statements may be true, but may look inconsistent. You may forget the details that you emphasized in the first letter. Then if you emphasize other details or another side of the story, it may be construed as inconsistent or even a lie.

Of course, in your mind, you know the whole story. It all makes sense to you. You need to be careful, especially with more complicated situations. The more complicated a situation is, the more often the facts look inconsistent. This is so even when there are no real contradictions.

Keep copies of what you write. Make sure that you maintain the basis of your story each time you are asked.


Who Told You What?

Thirdly: Get the names of everyone you speak to at the agency. Record the date when you spoke to them. Note what they told you. Also maybe how you spoke to them (phone, in person, email). You can make email inquiries through your on-line account. Keep a copy of any of these correspondences.

If someone at the UIA tells you something that does not make sense (happens all the time), ask another person. There is turn-over at the UIA like every other business. The people you talk to do not always know what they are talking about. If you cannot get through by phone (it is difficult), send an e-mail question to the Agency.

Finally: Read the information book that UIA gives to you. If you did not get one in the mail, go the nearest office. Read the whole thing. Every time I have been to a hearing of fraud, the Claimant is asked, “Did you get the book? Did you read the book?” Everyone that says that they got it but did not read it looks foolish.

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What Did You Actually Earn?

When the issue is reporting, there are a few different questions you should be ready for. The UIA gets bi-weekly reports from you, the Claimant, when you certify with Marvin. But they also get reports from the Employer, though not as often.

The first question is, did you actually get what the Employer said that you got. I had one case where the employer kept no time clock. The Claimant did not like it, but was just working part time and had no idea, at the time, how important the question would become. At first, the Employer said they had no record of her hours. Later, they produced a record that in my opinion was a fabrication for the hearing. A few weeks part time employment ended up costing the Claimant all of her unemployment benefits. She had to pay back thousands of dollars because she did not keep records to show when she actually got paid for which work.

Also when you report, make sure you report GROSS, NOT NET. Many people get in trouble because they report the amount of the check after deductions. But the UIA is expecting the gross before deductions. When the Agency gets the income reports from the employer the amount will be different if you do not report gross.

There is sometimes a problem with vacation pay. Some of my clients reported to Marvin only to find out later that they received vacation pay. The best thing to do here, as whenever there is an error in reporting, is tell the UIA as soon as you find out about it. Go in person or however you can reach them. Make a record of who you spoke to, when, and what they told you. At least then you can defend yourself in that you tried to fix the problem once you found out.

The biggest problem with this is that most people that need to prove what they were actually paid rarely keep complete or accurate records on the issue. Keeping all your pay-stubs will help. But some employers do not have a lot of information on their stubs. In some cases, the best thing for you to do is keep a record of your wages for yourself.

Do you think it is fair to penalize people that are determined to have lied?

  • Yes.
  • No.
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When Did You Actually Get Paid?

Another question is: when did you earn this money? For unemployment, you need to report what you earned for the weeks that you certify with Marvin. It does not matter when you actually received the payment. When did you earn it? I have seen many people get in trouble because they report wages when received, not earned. Some employers do not help with this question when they hold checks for more than a week or when they have inconsistent paydays. This is why keeping your own record of what you earn can help.

If this is your situation, you may want to keep a record of when you got your paycheck along with the other information. This is what happened to another of my clients, but she did not keep a record of these things. The Employer kept checks for weeks before finally giving them to the Claimant. With this particular client of mine, the Judge did not believe her (although the Appellate Commission reversed the Judge’s decision on other grounds).

The point is that the more records you keep, the better your chance to confirm your side of the story. The more facts you can prove, the better your chance of having the Judge believe you that you were not trying to deceive.

Did you understand all of the questions you have been asked by the UIA?

  • Yes. I understood everything.
  • Yes. Mostly.
  • No. There was a lot I did not understand.
  • No. I was completely lost.
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What If They Call Me?

In some cases, a UIA agent will call a Claimant to inquire about possible fraud. The agents in the fraud unit that I have asked about this have often said they do not usually do this. But I have had several clients where the Agency fraud unit has called them. In those cases, the Agent for the agency tries to use what was said in the call to demonstrate fraud.

So, if you get a phone call from an agent regarding fraud, listen carefully to what you are asked. Make a record for yourself of what was said. You may need it later at a hearing. Note what you were asked and your response. The Agent for the UIA will be taking notes on their end, but they do not always get it right.

Do not tell the Agent that you were scared. They always take this to indicate that you knew you were doing something wrong. Do not tell the agency that you did not know what to do because you needed the money. They always take that to mean that you were trying to get the money even if you did not deserve it. Do tell them the truth.

What Do I Do?

If you get an Inquiry regarding possible fraud, do not ignore it. Answer the questions as truthfully as you can. If you get a Determination or a Re-determination, protest until you get a hearing.

If you need help in filling anything out or understanding what is being asked for, you can contact me for a consultation. While the Unemployment Advocacy Program does not pay for representation in fraud cases, you can still hire someone if you want, to help you. If you want to contact me to discuss a consultation, to protest a determination, or representation at a hearing, feel free to contact me. You can send an e-mail if you need any information.

About the Author

Andrew Grosjean is an attorney at law (licensed in CA). He lives in Michigan and has worked extensively with Michigan Unemployment Hearings since 2001. His wife, Glenda Grosjean, is also an Advocate for Unemployment (since 2004) and for Disability.

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Comments 39 comments

Jerry Berry 4 years ago

"Do you think it is fair to penalize people that are determined to have lied?"

Terrible wording -- sounds like something God would be concerned with. Does the gov't ever ask questions that are none of their business? Wouldn't *what* the lie was about, and the consequences, be important? Does it matter that the punishment be proportionate to the infraction?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 years ago from Detroit Author

No doubt that God is concerned with whether people lie or not. But I did not bring God into it. It is a valid question for our society to answer. After all, lying can hurt people. It can get you what you do not deserve. And the results can be a burden to all society.

The question and context here is clear. If a person lies to the UIA, they may get benefits that they do not deserve and that ultimately is a burden on everyone. But was just asking, in this context if it was fair. I ask the question of this morally relativistic society, "Is it fair to penalize people that are determined to have lied?"

David Dzierbicki 2 years ago

sick with diebeties waiting for disabily unemployment pulled the same thing on me fraud whent to court on this matter the mad fun of me because I have a learning disability. my dauther was eyewitness to this case now for the second time there going to make me homeless again.what is the perpuss of this, take about god were is he in this case, im not going to live throw this one too cold out side.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 2 years ago from Detroit Author

If you are asking where is God in these kinds of situations, God is always there for any one who seeks Him with humility. I don't know where your relationship is with Him, but I do know that He is there for all who will look for Him. Jesus made the way for us to peace with God. For those that trust in Him, God promises to work all things together for the good when we walk in the spirit and not after the flesh. He will provide for the needs of all that rely on Him. So whether it is through unemployment or another way, if you rely on Christ, He will see you through it.

Keith 2 years ago

I have been battling UIA in MI for 16 weeks now my claim runs out in april. I have won 4 cases so far on appeal but as soon as I win they find another to deny me and I start the appeal all over again. When they would not answer I called legislators and after that I was contacted very fast by the UIA. But they still pull the games they have been pulling. All this started because I took a couple part time jobs while laid off and had to quit them to return to my regular job. Non of these companys have protested this is all done by a UIA worker. The congressmans office I have been talking to has informed me that they have to fax any questions to the UIA since there is no number for even them to call. I have seen nothing but a office that wants to get out of doing their job and not pay workers what is theirs in the first place. I have came to the conclusion that I will just sell my home here buy another in OH and once this is all done I will just claim through another state to avoid the corruption of Michigan UIA. It's a shame that Unemplyment has became such a corrupt form of stealing money from buisinesses and working people.

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PastorAndrew 2 years ago from Detroit Author

There is an office that you can physically go to in Detroit. Someone said there was one in Lansing too, but I do not know. If you go to the Conflict Resolution office in the Cadillac Place on W. Grand Blvd in Detroit, they can help you. Go and ask them for a copy of every Determination, Redetermination, Notice of Restitution Due, or Order Denying Reconsideration. Then protest all right there in the office and keep the copies.

A lot of people get stuck because the do not know that there are more than one determination standing against them.

Brian 2 years ago

Good Advice. In 2009 I received $5k in over payment from Michigan UIA. My jobs that I have had required me to move constantly sometime 3 or 4 times a year. I have been settled for the past 3yrs and received a letter stating that I now owe $20k. Is there a possibility to get this lowered?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 2 years ago from Detroit Author

If they impose penalties, the only way I know to get it lowered is to have a hearing. If a judge overturns the UIA''s decision on fraud, then the penalty will be taken off. You have to protest any determinations that you disagree with.

D Dzierbicki 2 years ago

waiting to get hung by the corrupt system, , because I was sick a the time trying to work with diabetes and black out turned down by ssd ,they said go back to work. so I did my hart stopped twice and I almost died . that's are system prying on there own people. the poor is always pryed apond by the rich.

Daniel 23 months ago

Hello I have a question about unemployment fraud. My sister is currently being investigated. Here is the basis of the investigation. She left her job at Pine Rest willingly about 1 year ago, she then acquired a job with a real-estate company. That company after a few months of work would eventually lay-off my sister. She would wait a little bit then file unemployment. She has collected for a little while and is now being investigated for fraud. The basis for the fraud is because she left her job at Pine Rest instead of being let go. She did not file until a year after Pine Rest though and filed because of the Real-Estate job how is this a basis for an unemployment fraud case?



PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 23 months ago from Detroit Author

Many of these claims are done by computer. So, they get a lot of things wrong. Keep protesting/appealing until you get a hearing.

Patrick 23 months ago

My wife is fighting with UIA now. She was awarded unemployment from her time working as a pool casual employee. When they cut back her hours to nothing she applied for unemployment and was awarded 16 weeks. She did not lie to gain benefits, she even told them that she was still an on-call employee and they told her that was fine. She just had to be sure that she claimed any money made while drawing benefits. This all took place in 2013

She was not called to work after that. The hospital laid off several employees. fast forward to June 2014 she received a determination stating that she quit her job and owed back the benefits along with penalties to the tune of $24,000.00. She never quit. She actually received a letter from the hospital in March of 2014 stating that they were ending the relationship since they were not able to utilize her services. We are in need of some help to fight this. We protested in June and just last week we received a redetermination and this time it was for $26,000.00.

This is just a quick outline of what has been happening. My wife has kept all documentation. We are just looking for some help through this. We are not a dishonest family and work for everything that we have.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 23 months ago from Detroit Author

Just make sure that you protest/appeal any letters that you disagree with. Feel free to give me a call if you need help or get a hearing date.

Crystal 22 months ago

Hi Andrew, I have a determination made against me of misrepresentation made by UIA. When certifying for benefits I forgot to add in my .75 an hour shift premium. It was a mistake on my part, but not done intentionally to receive undeserved benefits. I've explained this several times to the UIA, but it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I have appealed the decision and have a court date. I am unsure whether or not to obtain legal counsel. I don't completely understand everything, so I thought it might be a good idea.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 22 months ago from Detroit Author

I would definitely get a representative that has experience in this kind of hearing if possible. Give me a call if you would like me to help.

Steve 21 months ago

My company does not operate in the winter because of snow on the ground. My company pays us 4 days vacation pay when we are laid off. The total amount was 438$ after taxes the amount was 258$ gross pay. I did the right thing and claimed this money and didn't get Benefits for that week I was paid. I am now being investigated for fraud for claiming vacation pay. How does this make sense?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 21 months ago from Detroit Author

Many of the decisions that are made are done by computer now. They often do not make sense. Give me a call.

Lanee 18 months ago

Hi, hopefully you can help me.... I was fired from my retail job of almost 2 yrs in may of 2011 and filed for benefits but was still looking for work.... I started a job at a bar but only trained unpaid for a week before I got pregnant and had to quit..... Unemployment is saying I committed fraud saying I was working the whole time I was receiving benefits and that is not the case... Saying they had proof of wages but I wasn't working during that time so how can they have a record of something I wasn't getting?!I had to move out of my apt because of me being unemployed. I tried to appeal once I got denied I tried to appeal again and never heard anything back and they are saying I owe the whole amount plus some back.... I How can I get hearing or prove that I was actually unemployed during this time? Why do they have wages that I didn't receive reported?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 18 months ago from Detroit Author

Three choices. 1. Call in to the 800 number (difficult to get through). 2. Log on to MIWAM and see what determinations are there, and protest them (but not everyone can do this). 3. Go down to a Conflict Resolution office and ask for all the determinations/redeterminations that are standing against you. Protest them right there. You can give me a call if you have not yet. 313-729-9794

Atty Jenkins 16 months ago

Pastor Andrew was highly recommend by a few other attorneys. He is highly specialized in this area and very familiar with UIA laws, policies, and judges. You should consider him for your UIA case.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 16 months ago from Detroit Author

Thank you very much for your kind words.

K Risner 14 months ago

My fiancé is having to pay almost $54,000because they said he knowingly committed fraud because his claim was filed under "lack of work" and he lost his job due to too many abstinences, but he didn't even file under lack of work, it was filed under "laid off", my mom was the one who filed it. But when he lost his job he went to the staffing company and they told him to file for unemployment and that he will get it, so that's what he did. We tried fighting it but they denied the financial hardship. He just lost his most recent job, we have no income and this happened in 2013 and I'm afraid they will file criminal charges, he was just approved for unemployment but the are going to take it all. We don't know what to do. Please help.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 14 months ago from Detroit Author

Please give me a call. I can evaluate the situation and tell you what to do. 313-729-9794

Karalynnie 8 months ago

I do not know that you still participate in helping, but I'm stuck. In 2011, I was let go from my place of employment, with no given reason. I filed for unemployment as an "unrightful discharge" because I had done nothing wrong to be fired. My employer tried to fight it, saying I was fired for misconduct (if I recall correctly). We had a hearing, and they lost the hearing, so I was granted my unemployment benefits. Nothing else had been done on my employer's part. Well, today (January 29th, 2016) I received a letter from MI UIA that I was "overpaid" $1,700 some dollars, and I would need to pay it back or complete $4,000 some dollars in rework (not entirely sure what that means), starting once the "protest period" was up. I did not do anything wrong that I can tell, and I don't understand WHY it took them almost 4 years to figure this out. I don't know how or why this could have happened, either, because I have not been fradulent in any of my claims for this reason! I din't know what to do!

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 8 months ago from Detroit Author

The UIA has had problems lately accurately responding to Judge's decisions. I don't know why this is, but I have had half a dozen people call me about this in the last week. Give me a call.

Anneka 5 months ago

I too was told to pay back $40k my employer said i quit when in fact they fired me. Went to see the judge and he ruled in Their favor because I faxed an appeal but was told it was never recieved! I don't know what to do or if i can do anything!

Kay 5 months ago

This happened to me. I never applied for Unemployment and someone using a Miami address used me to try to collect UE. I never was sent anythong because thw sent it to a Miami addreas. Supposedly nothing was paid out, but unemployment garnished my Federal and state taxes. I filed a fraud complaint with them and they are investigating it and told me that it is in with the ring that they are investigating. I files police report, filed fraud report, and sent in all my info like address, soc #, and all documentation I have received.

Got a phone call from EUI investigation dept about 3 or 4 weeks ago saying they were looking into it and that they know I am part of the investigation and that they don't understand why all my taxes were being held because nothing supposedly was paid out.

Well they called and said they were releasing my state taxes. Yay me! 3 weeks go by no taxes. I however did get a $17 check. Wth! Called up there to see what was going on. Whoever released my check released it to the #&$@ criminals. Imagine that. Knowing that the address was faulty and still sending money to them. Dumb people. It is definitely ignorant people working with our money. Or it is a inside job of all this fraud.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 months ago from Detroit Author

You can ask for a rehearing because there is information that you did not know that you needed for the hearing. And you can always protest to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 months ago from Detroit Author

Keep us updated. That is a very interesting case.

Lucas 4 months ago

I was recently "laid off" with the reason "we're going In a different direction" by a large sporting goods chain that began liquidating 2 days later, I promptly filed for unemployment the next day, it turns out I was not laid off I was actually fired but was never given a reason beyond "we're going in a different direction". I am now being accused of misrepresentation. I filled out the forms on MIwam and I do not know what to expect, should I call them to explain or wait to hear a response.

Lee 4 months ago

Wife has been paying back uneployment for about 3yrs. She did nothing wrong, told the turn with everything. Is there anything we can do to get our money back and stop the payments?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 months ago from Detroit Author

If they sent you a request for information, then fill it out and return within the time limit. If they have issued a Determination or Redetermination, then you need to protest or appeal. If you need help on doing that, feel free to give me a call. Certainly give me a call when you get the Notice of Hearing, because it is there that you have the best shot at winning.

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 4 months ago from Detroit Author

You can only get the issue overturned by filing protest/appeal to the UIA's decisions. But if you got the decision and did not protest with in the year, it is very hard or sometimes not possible to do anything.

A Moore 3 months ago

I was made to pay back $2500 for an error on my unemployment file that they called fraud! They took my tax return and I filed an appeal that was denied. I paid them off even though I wasn't in the wrong because they penalties kept going higher and higher. Basically I owed $347 but was made to pay them back $2000 for something that was NOT fraud! It was there error and they just said it was fraud because I took another job in Illinois so the job didn't start for 2 weeks so I filed for unemployment during the transition and they said I quit my job! I quit to go to another job but still remained a Michigan resident but job was in Illinois. They are ripping off consumers BIG time during our time of need!

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 2 months ago from Detroit Author

In any determinations, you should protest if you do not agree. If you never got the decision, you can still go back and deal with it even if it is late. Keep protesting until you get a hearing.

James 7 weeks ago

I am being charged 4,000 dollars in restitution to the Unemployment Agency for fraud. This is incorrect. I lay asphalt, so I'm a seasonal worker. In the winters I receive unemployment. Well, I got a letter from unemployment saying I had to pay them back everything they paid to me plus more, which came to 4,000. They are claiming I collected unemployment in January of 2015 while I was working at a company called Nagle. This is untrue, and also makes no sense. Nobody can lay asphalt in January. No asphalt plant is open. So it is literally impossible that I was working in January. It baffled me because I could not believe these people wouldn't have put two and two together. A friend I previously worked with got mad at me and he called unemployment and falsely accused me of working. I have proof I did not work in January. Also, the company Nagle can also speak on my behalf that I did not work there in January. Nobody does! They're closed. Shouldn't they do research first before falsely accusing someone? Now what do I do? Because I'm definitely not paying them back.

Ryan 7 weeks ago

I received the fact finding questionnaire and apparently my employer said I voluntarily quit when I lost my job due to reduction in hours which I answered honestly in registering for unemployment. I was honest as I could be in answering all the questions in when answering the questionaires. So far I have only claimed for 2 weeks which amounted to be about $700. This when is my next check-in week and I do it online but I'm afraid to until I know it is ok.

What cam I expect to happen next?

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 7 weeks ago from Detroit Author

You need to find the Determination/Redetermination that they made that originally said that you had to pay them back. You might find it on MIWAM. I can help you find it if you need help. Protest/appeal it and then get a hearing. You have keep protesting until you get a hearing. It is the only way to get it straightened out. Give me a call if you need help. 313 729 9794

PastorAndrew profile image

PastorAndrew 7 weeks ago from Detroit Author

Definitely keep certifying. If you stop then you have to restart your claim. Just answer anything that they send you honestly. If you get a problem, give me a call.

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