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Don’t Panic

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Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Fraudsters are bad people. And “Bad people are good at doing bad things,” said Matt Weldon, Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training Director, as he shared the state’s latest unemployment records. On June 5, 2023, Rhode Island’s DLT confirmed that since the pandemic, the state has paid $121 million to fraudsters. The $121 million represents a 23% increase from last year when those numbers totaled $98 million. The good news from what Weldon shared is that while there will always be fraudulent activity tied to joblessness programs, the sharp spike in unemployment claim scams seen at the beginning of the pandemic has slowed down. Hold on though. There is bad news.

Weldon said even though there are fewer scammers applying right now for jobless benefits, the fraudulent number reported has skyrocketed because the agency has gotten faster at confirming suspected fraud as phony claims. Weldon highlighted that fraudsters took advantage of the state’s unemployment insurance program by stealing people’s identities and filing for jobless money rather than attacking the underlying system itself. “Don’t panic — it’s happened to just about everyone, including me,” he said. “It happened to my wife early in the pandemic.” Like, it’s a right of passage you know. Just chill.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Labor announced last week it was providing $653 million in grants for states to modernize their technology systems tied to unemployment insurance programs. And Weldon said they are putting together a plan to apply for a portion of those funds. But he’s hopeful — if successful in getting some of the federal grant money — they can use the funds to improve a system that’s antiquated and went under massive strain during the pandemic. That would be more good news, as the states estimates (here comes the bad news!) there’s another $456 million in suspected fraud cases unaccounted for.

On June 27, 2023, check out a new podcast, The FraudKast, that shines a light on fraud and how identity theft permeates across all government programs like this.

Today’s Fraud Of The Day is based on article “Fraudulent jobless claims top $120M, as RI officials eye federal grants” published by WPRI News on June 5, 2023

The amount of money Rhode Island has paid in fraudulent unemployment claims tied to the pandemic continues to rise, although state leaders said new activity has slowed.

The R.I. Department of Labor and Training reports that since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic it has paid $121 million to fraudsters who have ripped off the state’s joblessness program. But that figure could be much higher, as the state estimates there’s another $456 million in suspected fraud cases.

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