PA continues to withhold Pandemic Assistance unemployment payments due to fraud

Pennsylvania continues to withhold Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments while officials track down thousands of suspected fraudulent claims.

The payments were first stopped two weeks ago when the number of claims for PUA assistance jumped from five thousand to 20-thousand a day.

"We are fairly certain that a number of those claims we know are fraudulent claims," said State Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak.

Oleksiak says its a nationwide problem - fraudsters using stolen identities to apply for benefits.

He says applications for benefits are still being processed, but they can't send out money until they're sure claims are legitimate. "Believe me, we do not want to hold people's dollars back from them. We want to get them their money."

Several dozen prison inmates and accomplices are already charged in the scheme. More are suspected.

The PUA program pays benefits to gig and other workers who typically are not eligible for unemployment.