CINCINNATI (FOX19) - New unemployment figures show more evidence that the state of Ohio is having trouble keeping unemployment fraud from getting out of control.
In January, Ohio averaged more than 44,000 new claims per week. The first week of February saw a massive spike with 140,444 new claims. Then last week, 147,000 new claims — that’s a 194% increase. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services believes at least 77,000 of those claims are fraudulent.
“I’m thinking organized? Yeah, I’m thinking that it’s definitely something massive,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers said. He’s involved in the Department of Justice’s investigation into the fraud.
DeVillers says the criminals are coming from everywhere.
“People are creating bank accounts, and your name, my name using the data that they’ve either, you know, bought off the black market, or they were able to fish and get from you somehow through some sort of scam,” DeVillers said. “And when that happens, they set up a bank account, they got your social security, date of birth, perhaps an address, and then it’s theirs.”
The Department of Justice is targeting those bank accounts.
“We’ve been able to freeze some stuff, and not going get into a lot of details because those investigations are still going on,” DeVillers said. “But I’m confident we’ll get some… we won’t get all that. We’ve made no arrests at this point”
DeVillers says the investigation to this point has revealed that if you are a victim of a fraudulent claim in Ohio, be prepared to become a victim in other states as well.
“There’s a market for your social security, date of birth, your information is on the markets all over the world, not just in the United States,” DeVillers said. “And that’s being monetized. That’s a commodity now. And just like you know, drugs, that’s a commodity and it’s being sold.”
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