SAUGATUCK, Michigan -- Fake unemployment claims are on the rise and a West Michigan man says it’s also hitting his “extended” family. By that, he means, his dog.
Michael Haddock, an attorney in Saugatuck, says he received a letter from the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. It’s addressed to Michael Ryder.
Ryder is his dog. "I got a letter from the UIA on Saturday, my name is Michael, my dog is Ryder. I was surprised to see it, but I had a good laugh, actually," he said.
Haddock posted the picture on Facebook this past weekend, after he got the notification. In it, he said his dog qualifies for $360 dollars every week. “Not sure what he is going to do with the money, but it should be interesting. I knew he was clever, but he surprised me this time.”
Haddock says the employer listed on the letter was a restaurant chain in Metro Detroit.
On Tuesday, the Michigan UIA announced it was creating a special investigative unit, to handle the recent increase in fake claims. The agency hopes to catch the thieves before any money is doled out.
As for Haddock, he doesn’t know if “Michael Ryder” is even a real person. If it is, he says it is certainly a coincidence.
The UIA says its computer system did send out the initial letter to Haddock's address. However, it was flagged as suspicious during the next step in the unemployment process. The agency has since sent another letter to Haddock's address denying the claim. In light of the situation, the UIA says it got a laugh out of Ryder's claim and Haddock's story. In an email, the investigator says, "Unfortunately, Michael Ryder’s claim will not be allowed. I know first-hand it is rare for 'man’s best friend' to contribute financially to the household and that will continue in this instance," says Tim Kolar, State Administrator of Investigations, UIA.
The agency has seen an increase recently in fraudulent claims and attributes much of it to the recent data breaches. Fortunately, in this case and many others, the claim was caught before any money was dispersed.