Claims came in from out-of-state using stolen personal information.
Annapolis, Md (KM) A massive criminal fraud scheme has been uncovered by the Maryland Department of Labor. Secretary Tiffany Robinson says 47,500 claims from out-of-state were filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which helps persons who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. These claims total $501-million.
During the Governor’s news conference on Wednesday, Secretary Robinson said the state was able to uncover this scheme. “Knowing that fraud was a real and ever-increasing threat, our Department’s employees remained vigilant,” she. said. “And when our Division of Unemployment Insurance recently detected an usual increase in out-of-state claims. we were prepared.”
Robinson says these fraudsters never got any money. “With a secure a website, and heightened security measures in place, our Department quickly detected, reported and blocked payment to over 47.500 fraudulently filed out-of-state claims,” she says.
And Robinson gives credit to her staff.. “I’m so proud of my team for working around the clock to allow our Department to emerge as the victor rather than the victim of fraud,” she said.
During the news conference, Governor Larry Hogan said no personal information on file with the State was compromised. “The State of Maryland Department of Labor has not experienced any breach of our unemployment insurance information system. And Maryland claimants’ personal information has not been compromised in any way,” he said.
The Governor called criminal operations like these which take advantage of a global pandemic to steal money from taxpayers as “despicable”
The Maryland Labor Department says illegal scheme has shed some light on similar operations around the country. “Our Department will continue to coordinate with the US Attorney’s Office and the US Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General to investigate and prosecute the criminals taking advantage of the PUA program by filing fraudulent claims using stolen personal identity,” says Secretary Robinson.
The Governor says this incident will not stop the state from helping Marylanders who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. “And I can assure that nothing is going to stop us from continuing to help struggling Marylanders with the assistance they need during this crisis,” he said.
By Kevin McManus