LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Thousands of unemployment claims have been flagged in Michigan due to concerns of them possibly being fraduelent.
340,000 claims were flagged, which make up 15% of the 2.2 million claims filed in Michigan during the pandemic.
If the country doesn’t watch closely for these fraud claims, it could be costly.
“The office of inspector general for the US department of labor estimated that at least 26 billion in UI benefits will be stolen by criminals during this pandemic,” said the director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, Jeff Donofrio.
That includes dollars being stolen right here in Michigan.
“Our exposure to potential activity could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars” said Donofrio.
The thousands of people who had their claims flagged, also received a stop payment notice.
“We identified that potentially malicious claims were being filed and we quickly moved to address the vulnerabilities and flagged accounts that needed further review, ” Donofrio said.
Donofrio added that the people committing fraud are using fake names.
“These fraudsters used stolen imposture identities to pose as unemployed workers to illegally obtain benefits,” said Donofrio.
Just because 340,000 claims were flagged, doesn’t mean they’re all fake.
“Unfortunately, many of these are legitimate claimants, whose economic lifeline is tied up, do to this criminal scheme” Donofrio added.
This is leaving many stuck in the crossfire, with no benefits.
“Our number one priority is to weed out the criminals and pay legitimate Michigan claimants” said Donofrio.
It’s also slowing down the process for people to get their money for unemployment.
“Because of this criminal activity, some of those folks are experiencing additional delays” said Donofrio.
The Attorney General, Dana Nessel, has created a task force to investigate these fake claims. Her office is teaming up with Michigan State Police, the U.S. Department of Labor and many other agencies.
“If you commit fraud in this program, you have risk, there is exposure and we will be looking” said David Tanay, from the Michigan Department of Attorney General.
Donofrio says if you’re claim was flagged, you should have received instructions on how to send additional documentation so they can confirm your identity. Once that is done, they will work to get you you’re benefits.