Fraudulent unemployment claims scam hits the state

Investigation into fraudulent unemployment claims

BRANDON, Miss. (WLBT) - Fraudulent unemployment claims are occurring in the state where working residents are receiving unemployment benefit notices.

A Rankin County man says he and his wife were targeted.

"It just seems to be there's no concern," said Bobby Stanton.

He is extremely concerned after learning that unemployment benefits were filed for him and his wife.

They are both working.

May 30th he received a letter from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security that contained a debit card with more than $1,400 in funds.

Three days later his employer got a letter from the state agency claiming he filed for unemployment.

Stanton said he has called and emailed the department and gotten no response.

"It amazes me there are no simple numbers to call and why can't the unemployment office take the time to send a letter to the employer or simply make a phone call and make sure it's legit," said the 64 year old transportation worker.

"We are receiving calls every day," said Timothy Rush, Director of Reemployment Assistance with the MS Department of Employment Security.

He said they have received 85 to 100 similar complaints filed since last Wednesday.

“There are reports of claims being filed, and we’re treating those as identity theft claims and taking precautions to stop payments, recover payments where we can and report those to authorities,” Rush reported.

He said investigators have determined that scammers are getting information on their victims from social media.

He suggests not putting personal information like birthdays, high schools and hometowns on social media.

According to State Auditor Shad White, the U.S. Labor Department, U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Secret Service, his office and other state agencies are investigating.

“In the State of Washington a fraud group called ‘Scattered Canary’ defrauded the unemployment benefits system out of hundreds of millions of dollars, and we know now that similar kinds of schemes are happening everywhere including Mississippi," said White. “The State of Washington has admitted that they may have lost as much as $300 million dollars in a very short amount of time. We can not afford to lose $300 million from the State of Mississippi”.

If you did not file for unemployment and receive a letter from the Mississippi Employment Security Department contact your Human Resources department immediately and file a complaint by emailing safe@mdes.ms.gov.

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