back to article Fraud detection system with 93% failure rate gets IT companies sued

Last week, a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed against the companies responsible for developing and installing MiDAS, the Michigan Integrated Data Automated System. The complaint accuses Colorado-based Fast Enterprises, North Carolina-based SAS Analytics, and Illinois-based CSG Government Solutions of negligent product …

  1. chivo243 Silver badge
    Holmes

    Buttle or Tuttle?

    You be the judge...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Buttle or Tuttle?

      Yup.

      Terry Gilliam's movie remains a potent metaphor for government FUBAR.

  2. Oengus

    Centrelink

    the system was automated to such an extent that individuals accused of fraud often were not notified until it was too late to challenge the determination and were not provided with a way to respond.

    Now I know where Centrelink got their data matching software for fraud detections

  3. TRT Silver badge

    Bloody hell...

    "There have been at least two suicides in the state related to financial penalties arising from MiDAS's accusations of fraud, Paris said, who added that two of his clients had gone so far as to pen suicide notes."

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Bloody hell...

      Every person in charge of this ballsup. Every coder. Every "tester" (that list is probably empty by the sound of things). Every single person that had any kind of sign off.

      All of them to a person deserves being slapped with a charge of manslaughter.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Bloody hell...

        How about every business owner that signed off the requirements, UAT testing and acceptance criteria?

        Whilst I'm willing to be the Vendors got their chunk of flesh, I'm also willing to bet that there was a spectacular level of incompetence on the side of the requestors.

        Will GIGO ever not be a thing?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bloody hell...

        > All of them to a person deserves being slapped with a charge of manslaughter.

        I'd rather they were slapped with multiple counts of assault / harassment / threatening behaviour.

        Why? Because the weaselly shits that they are will weasel their way out of a manslaughter charge but the assault etc charge means that each affected individual can then sue them personally for damages. That should see them bankrupted and then they can experience the joys of claiming for benefits firsthand.

  4. HieronymusBloggs

    Software design

    ...by Franz Kafka Associates.

  5. Hans 1
    Gimp

    "In many cases, the determination [of fraud] is automated and made by a computer without the benefit of any investigatory review, or human input or evaluation of any kind," the complaint states.

    Crikey, they did not even have a test phase to validate this sort of thing ? It is hard to detect fraud, a human must intervene and check the data to be sure it is fraud before the first accusations are sent out .... especially in the launch phase, to ensure the systems work as intended ... with the error rate mentioned, this was clearly not done.

    This case is giving automation robots a bad name :-(

    1. cd

      It's giving automation robots their real name: Blind Cyclops.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Aitor 1

    Prison

    Both the officials and the directors of the contractor should go to prison, and their possesions seized.

    Not going to happen.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Prison

      Maybe the coroner can modify the cause of death in the 'suicides' to homicide. I am not sure if Michigan is death penalty state.

      But I doubt any of the irresponsible will do any time or have their assets seized.

  7. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Sorry, the computer says ...

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Justice by computer is a very long way away. Unfortunately attempts at at aren't.

  9. adam payne

    $47 million obviously doesn't get you what it used to.

    1. Adam 1

      Agreed. You could almost get half a fighter jet for that.

    2. Swarthy
      Pirate

      $47 million got them exactly what they wanted. A system that was so over-zealous that it discouraged people from filling for benefits; and if they did, it would wait a year, and then tell them that they owed about 3x what they could pay, and it was due last Tuesday. A few suicides a few bankruptcies, and word gets around. The UI fund went from $3.1 mil to $155 mil in 5 years. Well worth $47 mil to gain $152 million - a 3x RoI.

  10. alferdpacker

    FFS

    Jebus wept! Just look at the names involved! These are so obviously cowboys. Who signs these people up in the first place?

    durr, what good name for company? What we pretend to make? How about um "Fast Systems"?

    Clever! How about name for system? Needs to have no meaning whatsoever. Put "system" in there though so they know it system.

    Michigan Integrated Data Automated System

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      Who signs off on them? Who do you think?

      Is this a trick question?

      (seriously, I know it was rhetorical. I too am pissed about back channel kickbacks and favors)

  11. Ian Thomas

    Sounds like the whole system was designed to defraud people entitled to unemployment benefits. Presumably the rules will be applied both ways, so anyone who has been falsely accused of fraud will be entitled to receive five times their losses?

    1. Andy the ex-Brit
      Unhappy

      ...get five times their losses...

      Well, their attorneys might. That's something.

      1. kain preacher

        Re: ...get five times their losses...

        In cases like these , if the state loses they have to pay the lawyer fees. In fact lawyers line up for these cases if the think they are winnable. They rack up more billable hours and fees then they would on contingency cases. End result the lawyer gets more money then contingency cases and the client keeps all of the money won.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utterly disgraceful

    A pox on all their houses.

    Automated 'Justice' - beware the future....

  13. JohnMurray

    Sounds like the sort of system the DWP will probably install.

    Doesn't pay out.

    Flags claimants as crooks.

    Encourages self-termination.

    Good job IDS is no longer torturer-in-chief

  14. Potemkine Silver badge

    Looking at the results...

    ...Is that a bug or a functionality?

    This State made a lot of money on the backs of unemployed ones... Class war is profitable.

    1. Bucky 2

      Re: Looking at the results...

      If you start with the presumption that being out of work is largely a moral failure, everything else is easy.

  15. M7S

    Meanwhile, over this side of the pond

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/02/08/ministry_justice_conviction_by_computer_scheme_go_ahead/

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow Michigan's state government is out of control

    First they change Flint's water supply to save a pittance and poison their residents, now they are trying to save money by using a fraud detection system with tons of false positives and leaving it up to those who qualify for benefits to prove their innocence.

    I'll bet they've streamlined corporate handouts to big business though, can't have the fat cats upset, right?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wow Michigan's state government is out of control

      Michigan is just another example, and not an isolated one, of how corrupt the American empire is and how stupid people keep voting against their own interest..

    2. David Neil

      Re: Wow Michigan's state government is out of control

      The decision in Flint to change water supplies was taken by the City, not the State.

      1. kain preacher

        Re: Wow Michigan's state government is out of control

        Wrong. The City has a state appointed manger. He made the decision. So it was the state.

  17. DNTP

    93% Failure rate was deemed 'acceptable'

    Since the ultra-conservatives apparently believe that 93% of the people on government assistance are just lazy bums who choose handouts over work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 93% Failure rate was deemed 'acceptable'

      You are showing your immense liberal bigotry. Michigan is a liberal utopia state. Michigan is a state that gives people involved in serious auto accidents free healthcare for life, because you can't tell what the long term affects are. This is a state that requires you to get a purchase permit from the Sherrif's department to buy a BB gun. This is such a union-friendly state that the Ann Arbor school district was penalized for firing a teacher just because the teacher was serving a murder sentence after killing someone with an axe (the fact that they are a murderer has nothing to do with their teaching ability). You are looking at it all wrong. Michigan loves the lazy bums who choose handouts over work. This policy is one that penalizes normally employed people who suddenly become unemployed. It is this sort of 'responsible' person that Michigan hates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 93% Failure rate was deemed 'acceptable'

        Yes liberals screwed up the state, but conservatives screw up states just as readily when they get into power. i.e. this fiasco plus Flint's water situation.

        I think we'd be a lot better off if both at national and state levels bills required 2/3 of each legislative body's support to be passed. That would force bipartisan cooperation and insure neither the nation nor individual states could suddenly swing from left to right or vice versa when one party gets power over house, senate and the presidency.

        That's what led to bad ideas that the other side (rightly, IMHO) hated like Bush's tax cuts that killed the surplus and Obamacare that took a messed up health care system and made it even more messed up. Now the republicans are trying to replace Obamacare with something even worse that will blow up the deficit.

        Neither party is grown up enough to be allowed to govern on their own, both of them prove that over and over again.

  18. teebie

    " Colorado-based Fast Systems, North Carolina-based SAS Analytics, and Illinois-based CSG Government Solutions"

    The latter 2 companies collectively being known as "Loose Systems"

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another one down. Now to nail the god damn IRS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC "Another one down. Now to nail the god damn IRS."

      Amen to that. I was subjected to an investigation by the IRS of a previous year's tax return. After many months and having to get supporting documentation and affidavits from my employer, several other companies, and my tax preparer, all up against a deadline... the IRS finally admitted "our mistake, we mis-read the tax code, you were correct after all." No apology, no compensation, nothing.

      I am still bitter about it.

  20. Jim-234

    While fashionable to blame your IT provider, I think the Politicians probably knew

    Of course they are blaming the IT provider for the issue that had very real and very horrible consequences for vulnerable people who were in the middle of bad times.

    BUT I think it's a stretch to think that "suddenly" and "unexpectedly" during a very large economic downturn the number of approved unemployment applications suddenly falls off a cliff and their revenue from "fines and penalties" is suddenly filling the state slush fund and they now have this huge "surplus" in their unemployment fund?

    I think the local politicians may very well have been somewhat complicit in the whole affair, or at the very least, leaning hard to make sure the software "produced the maximum savings to the state fund"

    In addition, using the draconian penalties to scare others from filing for unemployment insurance to also suppress the real numbers to make their state look better.

    It was only after it got so out of hand and bodies start getting added to the pile & law suits start stacking up & the media gets involved... then suddenly they realize there was a mistake.... Yeah right.....

    Since they loved to be so hugely extra punitive about fining people 4x and 5x the amounts that they thought were wrong, how about make the politicians have to pay out 4x and 5x the fines that were levied against the innocent parties, plus 4x and 5x the benefit amount they should have gotten and see how they like their slush funds getting drained. That might make them think twice about such nonsense.

    1. MSmith

      Re: While fashionable to blame your IT provider, I think the Politicians probably knew

      You need to understand the Michigan Unemployment system. It is not for people with jobs, it is welfare. When my father was laid off after 30+ continuous year of productive employment, he went to the unemployment office. After paying unemployment insurance faithfully for those 30+ years, the Michigan unemployment office denied his claim! They stated that unemployment wasn't for people like him. He would find another job. Unemployment is really just another way to give welfare to those who don't work. As you can imagine, in an economic downturn, lots of people will suddenly show up actually expecting their unemployment benefits (that they paid for). You have to do something to stop that.

  21. herman Silver badge

    If they just flipped a coin it would have been 50% accurate. To get it wrong 93% of the time takes real dedication.

  22. Third Man

    What would the US have done if they weren't local gvt?

    Makes various diesel fakery look like they weren't actually trying...

  23. ecofeco Silver badge

    Due process?

    In America? Is this some kind of joke? Due process is a damn liberal commie Un-American conspiracy!

    No, no /s tag because it's not a joke. America has no claim to freedom and rights these days. Actually hasn't for decades.

  24. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    MiDAS "regularly and as a matter of practice determined that eligible beneficiaries committed unemployment fraud without any factual basis,"

    Replace "MiDAS" with "Republican politicians" and you have the story behind massive spending on biometirc fingerprinting measures to combat the same thing in the Tristate Area (NY, NJ, Ct pols claimed people were "walking across state lines" to claim duplicate benefits in the mid 90s - cf Voter Fraud claims of recent years).

    There certainly was fraud at high levels going on, but it was being done by the vendors of services. Make you cry to know what school supplies were being charged out at if you saw the figures. But those were small businessmen and so were untouchable.

    So blame was laid on a few homeless who apparently had bionic legs and could sprint between three states every week.

    Donald Trump didn't originate the art of making bullshit statements to the public with a straight face, he just elevated it to a science.

    1. enTeeEm009

      Re: Bah!

      @ Stevie

      Pray tell during this massive spending in the tri-state area on biometric, how the Republican politicians ran things??

      And most all Politicians have mastered that art of telling bs statements with a straight face. Show me a politicians who hasn't, and I'll show you a failed politician. So please if you're going to dump on Trump, as least be honest enough to say it's all of them.

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