But Grifka hadn’t actually committed insurance fraud. He was one of thousands of people, many out of work, wrongly charged by an automated unemployment insurance fraud detection system that began in 2013 under Michigan governor Rick Snyder.
Officials have at least partially conceded the program had problems: last month, the state revealed in a court filing that it quietly scaled back the $47m program, in the wake of intense media scrutiny. Now, all determinations are reviewed and issued by employees, a spokesperson told the Guardian.
The system, known as Michigan Data Automated System (Midas), caused an immediate spike in claims of fraud. In August, following increased media attention of problems surrounding Midas, the UIA pulled back roughly 8,500 fraud cases from the court system that hears unemployment claims to review the charges. A spokesperson for the agency told a local TV station last fall that, upon review of a majority of the cases, only 8% were affirmed to be fraudulent.