A couple has been charged with false COVID unemployment claims worth $ 2.5 million after posting photos of their designer clothes, cars and jewelry online, authorities said Tuesday.
Johnny Richardson, 25, and Micahia Taylor, 27, are charged with conspiring with Brandi Hawkins to fraudulently release public money “intended to support individuals who lost their jobs in the pandemic.”
Hawkins, 39, a former State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency contract worker, was charged in July, officials said.
Images of an unemployed Richardson and Taylor show online that the couple enjoys a luxurious lifestyle, buying brand new Mercedes-Benz cars worth $ 130,000, vacations and jewelry.
Johnny Richardson, 25, and Micahia Taylor, 27, in the photo, are accused of conspiring with Brandi Hawkins to fraudulently release government money ‘intended to support those who lost their jobs in the pandemic’
Pictures of an unemployed Richardson, pictured, and Taylor online shows the couple enjoying a luxury lifestyle, buying brand new Mercedes-Benz cars worth $ 130,000, vacations and jewelry.
He shared an image of the car Richardson bought for Taylor, writing, ‘BABY YOU DESERVE EVERYTHING I GOT THE BIG HOUSE YOU WANTED AND THE CAR AND THE JEWELRY.
“Besides, I love you so much and I won’t be ready the next week, I have something better.”
They are accused of wire fraud, The Detroit News reports.
Obviously the authorities are hunting Richardson; Taylor appeared in court on Tuesday where she was released on the basis of a $ 10,000 unsecured bond.
Assistant US Attorney Timothy Wyse had said, “We just don’t know where that $ 2.5 million is. We think that makes her a flight risk. ‘
The couple allegedly submitted the fraudulent unemployment claims online, either themselves or through others.
They then told Hawkins about the claims; She used her role as a government to fraudulently release payments, authorities said.
Hawkins’ house was raided in July; Police found $ 238,000 in cash and Louis Vuitton items. Her cell phone is said to contain messages from Taylor and communications about Richardson, whom officials say “does not have a paid job and has no other known legitimate source of income.”
US Postal Inspection Service Inspector Erin Leipold said: “ In general, posts on Richardson’s account routinely depict wearing designer clothing and custom diamond-studded jewelery and watches, driving luxury vehicles and owning large sums of money ‘
Taylor’s account often portrayed her with Richardson, and she was also depicted wearing diamond jewelry and watches, authorities said.
US Postal Inspection Service Inspector Erin Leipold said: “ In general, messages on Richardson’s account routinely depict wearing designer clothing and custom jewelery and watches with diamonds, driving luxury vehicles and in possession of large sums of money.
Before she put her Instagram account on private, Taylor’s account often featured her with Richardson, and she was also pictured wearing diamond jewelry and watches.
In a statement, the US Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan said, “Hawkins actions resulted in the fraudulent disbursement of more than $ 2,000,000 in federal and state funds intended for unemployment assistance during the pandemic.”
If found guilty of wire fraud, the couple faces 20 years in prison.