“So my dog Ryder gets approved for unemployment benefits of 360 per week,” Ryder’s owner, Michael Haddock, wrote on Facebook, according to ABC affiliate WZZM.
He added: “Not sure what he is going to do with the money but should be interesting. I knew he was clever but he surprised me on this one.”
Haddock, an attorney in Saugatuck, Mich., told WZZM that he received a letter last weekend from the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency addressed to his dog — sort of.
It was sent to “Michael Ryder.”
Haddock said the employer listed on the letter was a restaurant chain in Metro Detroit.
“My name is Michael; my dog is Ryder,” Haddock told the station. “I was surprised to see it, but I had a good laugh, actually.”
But it was no laughing matter to Talent Investment Agency spokesman Chris DeWitt. Talent Investment Agency is a part of Unemployment Insurance Agency, which is cracking down on false claims that come from a criminal element.
The UIA announced it's creating a special investigative unit to handle the recent increase in false claims, according to WZZM.
The UIA said its computer system did send out the initial letter to Haddock's address, according to WZZM. 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.
"It's important to note that no money was paid out,'' DeWitt said. "Criminals get a hold of people's personal information like name, address and Social Security numbers and file a false claim. This is a crime. I saw the story and it was a case of incorrect information being sent to the UIA for a false claim. There have been data breaches that have happened over the last few years that has been obtained by criminals. Those criminals are using that information to file claims."
In 2014, 17.6 million U.S. residents older than 16 had their identities stolen, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
On Tuesday, TIA Director Wanda M. Stokes announced in a press release that the agency had put out a tip sheet on preventing identity theft.
"ID theft is a growing crime in all sectors, including unemployment fraud,'' Stokes said. "By taking a few simple steps individuals and businesses can prevent, or at least limit the damage, if there is an ID theft attempted.