Inmate Operates $2.2 Million Fake COVID Unemployment Scheme From Prison

By Taylor Linzinmeir

May 11, 2022

Hands on the background of American dollars. A man is trying to take himself a big pile of money from hundred-dollar bills
Photo: Getty Images

Two Detroit men, a Warren woman and a prison inmate have all been charged after their involvement in a $2.2 million scheme. According to officials, the scheme involved submitting over 240 fraudulent COVID unemployment insurance claims.

Cortney Shields, 33; Daeshawn Posey, 25, of Detroit; Chaz Shields, 33, of Detroit; and Brittany Witherspoon, 25, of Warren were all involved in the fraud from May 2020 through July 2021.

According to authorities, after filing more than 240 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in more than 20 states and territories, they obtained more than $2.2 million worth of COVID unemployment benefits.

Cortney Shields operated the scheme while within the Federal Correctional Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, serving time for an unrelated fraud case, according to officials. The other members in the group transferred portions of the proceeds to Cortney Shields via wire into his commissary account.

In addition, court records show Cortney Shields also obtained a fraudulent $20,833 paycheck protection program loan. Payback protection program loans are supposed to help businesses keep their workers employed during the COVID crisis.

Cortney Shields pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud Tuesday Morning (May 10). He also agreed to forfeit $26,749.11 seized from the commissary account.

According to authorities, Posey, Chaz Shields, and Witherspoon were all charged in a related complaint.

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


    © 2023 iHeartMedia, Inc.