Feds say they've stopped $44M of unemployment fraud

Empty wallet
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By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — While the investigation into unemployment fraud in Pennsylvania continues to slow benefits for jobless workers, state and federal authorities say they’ve stopped tens of millions of dollars from landing in the wrong pockets.

Fraudsters have been using people’s identity to get cash meant for those who’ve lost their jobs during the pandemic, specifically self-employed and gig workers.

Investigators say they’ve stopped a total of $44 million from getting into the wrong pockets, with $28 million halted before it was stolen and $16 million to be paid back.

“This fraud issue has really affected a lot of people," said Julia Simon-Mishel, supervising attorney for the Unemployment Compensation Unit at Philadelphia’s Legal Assistance. "We have actually many clients who have been victims of this fraud. They have had identity stolen. They have had their identities used."

She says claimants may not realize their benefits may have been stalled becasue they have been flagged as needing to confirm their identity.

“Unfortunately they have to wait until the government goes through and confirms and looks at those identity documents, and then will release benefits," she said. "It is taking a very long time, and in the process, people are hurting a lot.”

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CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Julia Simon-Mishel's name was misspelled.