When Scott Woodring tried to set up an account in order to collect unemployment benefits with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I), the system told him an account using his social security number was already in use. And the system wouldn’t allow him to file a claim. Woodring suspected fraud and called the L&I fraud report line. The agent’s first question? “‘What is your birth date?’” Woodring said. When the agent found the date didn’t match, she asked, ‘Are you currently living in Allentown?’ The answer was “No”. Woodring had never lived in Allentown. A clear case of fraud, and going on way longer that Woodring realized. Because someone filed for Woodring’s benefits starting in May 2021. More than two years before Woodring ever needed benefits.
On January 21, 2022, Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry announced that their unemployment compensation system had been hijacked. Not hacked, like most people would say. Words have meaning. Words have power. And the word “hacked” sounds bad. Connotates the worst experience possible- like your identity is no longer yours. The word “hijacked”sounds like it’s just a crash. After all, the fraudster only took the benefits. At least the victim still has their identity. Right? Woodring considers himself lucky either way. He is not financially constrained by unemployment like some would be. Lucky him. Because he was told by the agent that the department would have to send a letter to the fraudulent mailing address and await a response.
Kudos to L&K who is working aggressively to resolve the unprecedented number of fraud reports filed during the pandemic period of high unemployment. At the end of May 2023, the number of outstanding fraud reports totaled 17,493, down from 34,000 at the start of 2023.
Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Others would ‘probably be evicted by now:’ Lititz man’s unemployment money delayed by fraud” published by ABC27 News on July 17, 2023
The lingering effects of a two-year-old “bank hijacking” scheme to siphon unemployment funds into fraudulent bank accounts continue delaying money that should go to some newly-unemployed Pennsylvanians, according to evidence provided to abc27 by a man who recently became unemployed.
Scott Woodring of Lititz in Lancaster County said he was laid off on June 2 from his data-entry job. His former employer provided severance payments and career counseling, and he tried to apply for unemployment compensation.