Maryland officials: More than 500K ‘potentially fraudulent’ jobless claims found in past 6 weeks
More than half a million “potentially fraudulent” unemployment claims have been filed in Maryland over the past six weeks, state labor officials said Monday.
Nearly 508,000 of the unemployment claims were flagged, officials said, as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) joins 25 other GOP governors who have chosen to end federal unemployment benefits. Hogan reported that nearly 1.3 million fraudulent claims have been filed in Maryland since the start of the pandemic, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
According to Hogan, the number of fraudulent claims has increased in recent weeks as the state nears the July 3 deadline for receiving benefits.
“As the economy recovers and states across the country continue to opt out of the federal benefits program, bad actors are becoming more brazen and aggressive in their attempts to exploit unemployment insurance programs than ever before,” Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson told the Post in a statement.
Labor Department spokeswoman Fallon Pearre did not clarify to the news outlet how many of the “potentially fraudulent” claims have been proven to be fake or if any will result in legal action, but she did tell the Post that the Labor Department reported the claims to federal law enforcement.
Under Hogan’s decision to end unemployment benefits in Maryland, which comes two months ahead of the Biden administration’s planned goal, Marylanders will lose out on an additional $300 a week in benefits and gig workers will be without benefits entirely, the Post reported.
Robinson, according to the Post, recently said that the Labor Department hired LexisNexis Risk Solutions to help it identify potentially fraudulent claims. The company flagged that nearly 64 percent of nearly 200,000 were fraudulent.
“Fraud is rampant, so we have to stay on top of it,” Robinson told the Maryland state House Economic Matters Committee, according to the Post.
When pressed by a state legislator about what kind of fraud was identified, Robison said that the majority involved stolen identities.
“We know there are foreign actors across the country and across the world that are using the identities that they have obtained,” she said.
Last year, Maryland officials discovered an unemployment fraud scheme that resulted in $501 million worth of fraudulent claims, with more than 47,000 false claims made using stolen identities and information acquired from previous data breaches.