By Scott Sullivan
Saugatuck attorney Mike Haddock got a surprise — and national attention — Jan. 25 on receiving an email from the state saying Michael Ryder qualifies for unemployment benefits.
“Ryder” is his dog.
“So my dog Ryder gets approved for unemployment benefits of $360 a week,” Haddock posted on Facebook. “I call the state and get a voice mail they are busy, call back.
“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 said.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency message listed Ryder’s former employer as Kruse Muer, a Rochester Hills-based chophouse bar/restaurant chain.
“Ryder didn’t say he’d been moonlighting,” Haddock said of his two-year-old Norwegian elkhound. “He likes steaks. I guess it makes sense to me.”
Media response was instant, the state somewhat slower.
“Michael,” unemployment insurance investigations administrator Tim Kolar emailed Haddock Jan. 31. “I enjoyed the story I saw last night regarding a claim being made for unemployment benefits. Unfortunately, Michael Ryder’s claim will not be allowed.
“Know firsthand it is rare for ‘man’s best friend’ to contribute financially to the household and that will continue in this instance,” the investigator said.
Kolar noted the story he saw didn’t reference an information request also sent to Haddock Jan. 25 noting the agency was unable to verify Michael Ryder’s identity.
“Easy come, easy go,” said Haddock. “There could be an unemployed Michael Ryder at another address.”
Whether the message resulted from a fake unemployment claim, data breach or other system glitch is uncertain, said Haddock. But it does bring awareness to the issue of fraudulent claims.
The UIA announced Jan. 30 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 Ryder? I don’t plan to appeal on my dog’s behalf,” Haddock said.