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Sympathy Card

Senior Director of Strategic Alliances
LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Everyone loves to get a letter in the mail when most mail is usually filled with bills and unwanted advertisements. Except for Georgia’s Governor Kemp. A recent letter Governor Kemp received was sent January 8, 2023 from the Georgia Office of the Inspector General. It might as well have been a sympathy card. Because according to the findings by Inspector General Scott McAfee, at least 280 full-time Georgia state employees received $6.7 million in unemployment payments in 2020 and 2021, which average $23,700 per employee.

Some of the cases highlighted by the inspector general’s letter, include a Georgia Department of Labor employee who was tasked with examining unemployment claims. Yet also received more than $30,000 through a fraudulent unemployment account this employee maintained from inside the DOL.

Or a Georgia Department of Transportation area manager who received nearly $40,000 while working. Or a Department of Revenue tax examiner who received more than $19,000 even as he was employed by the DOR’s Office of Special Investigations.

In another instance, three Department of Corrections employees filed their unemployment claims while being on-duty in state offices.

According to the letter, two dozen state employees were interviewed as part of the audit, “nearly all” of whom have now been fired. There are two hundred and fifty six more to go but don’t expect those to be fired any time soon. Apparently, lack of resources is getting in the way of contacting the remaining fraudsters. These fraudsters could collect pensions before they get letters. The Office of Inspector General notes it faces an “uphill, if not impossible, task” of interviewing the other 250+ employees found to have received payments.

The Inspector General added a footnote that the Georgia Department of Labor and its leadership rebuffed efforts to cooperate with the investigation.  The DOL response, “It was not legally permissible.” According to the DOL Commissioner Mark Butler, federal and state law prevented him from sharing some data with the Inspector General’s office.

Kudos to the Office of the Inspector General.  They do indeed face an uphill battle.

Today’s Fraud of The Day is based on article “Georgia Inspector General uncovers $6.7 million in fraudulent payments to state employees” published by the The Georgia Virtue on January 8, 2023

The Georgia inspector general has preliminary identified more than $6.7 million in false unemployment insurance payments to hundreds of state employees.

In a letter Wednesday to Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive counsel David Dove, State Inspector General Scott McAfee said more than 280 full-time state employees received the payments in error in 2020 or 2021. Payments averaged about $23,700 per employee.

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