CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A temporary fraud alert hold was put on around 270,000 total claims submitted through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
ODJFS officials say the claims were put on hold because patterns of suspicious behavior were discovered.
Multiple fraud indicators were found in more than 95% of the claims, according to a news release from ODJFS, including:
- Deceased individuals
- Fraudulent IP addresses
- Bank routing numbers
- Invalid email addresses
New claims with suspicious indicators are required to undergo a second round of identity verification which is more thorough than the first, ODFJS officials said.
“Unfortunately, there are criminals hoping to take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency at the expense of honest Ohioans who have earned their benefits,” ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall said. “We regret that legitimate claimants have been caught up in this fraud scheme, but we are charged with maintaining program integrity so that we can preserve benefits for those who need them.”
People with legitimate claims will have to prove their identity once they get instructions about how to verify the validity of their claims, according to the ODJFS.
Officials with the agency say 1,500 claims have been released as the investigation into possible fraud through the PUA program continues.