Hackers stealing money meant for unemployed Ohioans

Hackers stealing money meant for unemployed Ohioans
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 5:00 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Thousands of dollars worth of unemployment benefits are being stolen in what Cybersecurity experts call an account takeover or an account hi-jacking.

Cybercriminals get into an unemployment account, change the bank routing number to the number of an account they control, and steal benefit money before the victim even knows it.

It happened to several laid-off workers at a plant in Lima that makes Ford trucks.

“Nobody wants to be laid off, through no fault of their own,” said UAW Local 1219 President Jeffery Adams. “The problem we battle with unemployment just made it even tougher.”

Adams says at least 20 of his union members had their Ohio Unemployment accounts hacked and their benefit money stolen since early May.

He says the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has been slow to admit their system is compromised.

“They’re telling our members to call the FBI, there’s nothing we can do for you,” Adams said. “What they’re saying is the money wasn’t stolen from us, or they’re saying it’s not their fault, basically.”

“Ohioans received no notice that there was an account change,” said State Sen. Teresa Fedor of Toledo. “Then they open up their bank account, and it was stolen. Their bank account was changed.”

Sen. Fedor tried to get answers during the weekly meeting of the Unemployment Compensation Modernization and Improvement Council.

“They should get paid, no fault of their own, make them whole,” Sen. Fedor told ODJFS Deputy Director Julie Smith.

Smith responded by saying the state has recently upgraded its system.

“We believe the hijacked claims are a thing of the past, but there are still a number we need to address,” Smith said.

FOX19 NOW Cybersecurity expert Dave Hatter says account takeover schemes are not new.

“Account takeovers are a huge issue,” Hatter explained.

Hatter says individuals must do their part to protect themselves, especially if they have the same password for more than one account.

“If the hackers can get your information for any one account, then they potentially have access to all of your accounts or at least all the ones where that shared,” Hatter said.

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