FBI reports spike in fraudulent unemployment claims nationwide using stolen identity

Local News

The FBI is now reporting a spike in fraudulent unemployment claims nationwide, using workers’ stolen identity.

Just this past weekend, we reported a Southern Tier couple fighting back against an unemployment scam.

State unemployment offices across the country have been swamped with first-time claims, in numbers not seen in nearly 100 years, so filing a legitimate jobless claim can take weeks or even months.

It can also take even longer to uncover a fraudulent claim.

Joe Goodway showed us the benefits card he got in the mail to receive unemployment benefits. Problem is, Joe is working full-time and has not applied for unemployment.

It took Joe and his wife Julie more than 200 phone calls to the State Labor Department to close out the account.

Special Agent Maureen Dempsey of the Buffalo FBI office told us, they have received so many complaints from across New York, they have now turned their initial investigation over to the State Labor Department’s Office of Special Investigations.

Dempsey told us, workers like Joe Goodway will also need to contact their employers and tax officials.

Deanna Cohen, Deputy Director of Communications for the NYS Department of Labor released a statement saying, “Unemployment insurance fraud, unfortunately, is a scourge that the DOL fights every day, but those who seek to exploit a global pandemic for these criminal purposes are especially despicable,”

Cohen went dded, “We have disrupted thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims,” and identified more than 9,000 fraudulent claims during the COVID-19 outbreak, “protecting over $160 million from falling into the wrong hands, and we will continue to work with partners throughout the state and across the country to investigate all reports of fraud.” 

“The vast majority of fraudulent claims have been caught before a single cent is paid on the claim,” according to Cohen.

If you are the target of unemployment fraud, you are urged to report it on the State Labor Department’s 24-hour hotline at 1-888-598-2077, or file a written complaint online using the form at DOL website, on.ny.gov/uifraud.

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