Southfield woman charged with pandemic-related unemployment insurance fraud

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Federal officials have charged a Southfield woman in connection with allegedly filing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, between May 2020 and December 2021, Katrina Patreese Maddox allegedly used the identities of other people to file more than 35 false unemployment insurance claims.

Authorities also claim in the filing that illegally obtained benefits cards were used to make court payments, DoorDash deliveries as well as cash withdrawals.

"Approximately $311,440 in benefits was paid out as a result of the scheme, and the potential loss to the government was over $1.2 million," federal officials said in a statement.

Maddox, 46, has been charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

She was arrested Wednesday and later appeared in federal court in Detroit before Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti.

Maddox was released on a $10,000 bond, court records show. An order setting the conditions of her release required travel restrictions and written permission to seek a loan or other credit transactions.

A preliminary examination is scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 2.

The case was investigated by agents in the Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General with help from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency.  

It followed other charges involving state residents accused of schemes to seize COVID-19 relief or defrauding related programs.

A state audit found Michigan's unemployment agency lost more than $8.5 billion to suspected fraudulent payments amid record claims and persistent attempts at fraud during the pandemic.

In December, the U.S. Secret Service reported nearly $100 billion at minimum has been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs launched to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.