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Ohio woman gets unemployment benefits 17 weeks after being approved

Donna Sayre was one of thousands of Ohio claimants victimized by cyberhackers.
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The toil is over for an Ohio couple in their 70s who spent months without the unemployment benefits to which they’re entitled.

Donna Sayre was approved for $4,400 in badly needed benefits through the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in early June.

But the money didn’t make it to her Huntington Bank account. Instead, it went to an account with Green Dot Bank, which Donna had never heard of.

Sayre had become the latest victim of an “account takeover.” That’s when cybercriminals get into an ODJFS 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.

One of the most egregious cases came out of Lima in July, when at least 20 UAW union members reportedly had their Ohio unemployment accounts hacked and their benefits stolen.

The cybercrime impacted thousands of other victims, including Donna.

ODJFS was slow to come up with a solution for the victims. Finally last week, the department announced a process for getting the money back.

That came as welcome news to Donna, who had spent much of the foregoing weeks on the phone with representatives from Green Dot Bank, the Federal Reserve and ODJFS.

Eventually, Green Dot Bank released the money back to ODJFS. But the benefits still didn’t come.

Donna and her husband, Rick, had to take out a loan to pay the rent. The situation also forced Rick to return to work.

“You try to live on Social Security from month to month. It’s bad. It’s very bad,” she said at the time. “We’re lucky we have a place to live right now.”

Then ODJFS announced the reimbursement process, and immediately the couple started on it.

They got the money on Thursday.

“Things are going to start looking a little better, hopefully,” Rick said.

ODJFS has reached out to around 3,100 Ohioans it believes may have been victims of account takeovers.

The department says the number of Ohioans who suffered an account takeover is likely even higher.

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