OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – A Washington state news station has obtained records showing fraudulent unemployment claims were filed last year under the stolen identities of 59 employees of the US Department of Security. state employment.
The ministry spotted fraud after paying the debt to the fraudster’s bank account in 10 of those cases, KING-TV reported.
KING-TV submitted a public registration request seven months ago for the documents, which do not show how much money was paid.
The department has disabled security and verification processes to speed up payments to tens of thousands of Washington workers who lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. However, the process left the agency vulnerable to fraud.
Chris Monroe, an unemployed professional drummer in Seattle who was trying to get his unemployment benefits, discovered in June that he had a fraudulent claim in his name early last year. The ministry has not yet settled his account so that he can file his claim.
” What can I say ? It’s extremely frustrating, and yes, it angers me, ”he said. “I was a legitimate employee and contributed to the system. “
The state’s Department of Employment Security said it could not comment on Monroe’s case due to federal privacy laws.
Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine previously attributed the fraud to the pandemic, the desire to process claims quickly and a reduced workforce. The department reported that approximately 120,000 fraudulent claims have been filed in Washington state with more than $ 600 million in payments. More than half of the money has been recovered.
Anne Paxton, policy director for the Unemployment Bill, said the department had relied too much on technology to process claims and not enough on people. She suspects that an automated computer system processed fraudulent payments to stolen employee names that actual employees may have caught.
The Unemployment Bill offers low cost or free representation to people who have been denied unemployment benefits.
“The computer is your friend until it’s not your friend,” Paxton said. “We hope they will redirect their attention away from the computer system. “
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