LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A Wayne County man could spend between two and 20 years of prison time for stealing information from thousands of people to defraud government programs.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced on Tuesday that Dewan Williams, 47, has been sentenced for one count of conducting a criminal enterprise and one county of identity theft.

The case was initially brought to the Attorney General’s Office by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Inspector General after people expressed concerns over their identity being used to falsely apply for government aid.

A joint investigation between MDHHS and Michigan State Police revealed that Williams would use fraudulently approved Medicaid benefits to obtain free government cell phones.

After activating the phones, Williams would sell them for a personal profit.

“It is imperative that individuals have their personal information protected, and it is especially egregious when bad actors use that information to defraud government programs,” Nessel said.

Around 150 new and pre-packaged Safelink Wireless phones were recovered from Williams’ home, along with personal information stolen from approximately 7,000 identity theft victims.

“The threat of identity theft is real, and I urge Michigan residents to educate and protect themselves against potential victimization,” said Nessel.  

The submission of these fraudulent applications cost the state $11 million in unnecessary payments.

After the accounts were determined to be fraudulent, they were shut down and the money was recouped.

Williams is required to turn himself into custody at an adjourned sentencing date on June 29.