State receives ‘several hundred’ fraudulent claims for unemployment using stolen IDs

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — WorkForce West Virginia acting Commissioner Scott Adkins says there’s been a lot of fraud in recent weeks in connection with record unemployment claims in the Mountain State filed in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott Adkins

Adkins said some state residents may be getting letters about receiving benefits even though they never applied for them.

“We’ve received several hundred claims for folks who actually didn’t file claims,” Adkins said Wednesday during Gov. Jim Justice’s daily media briefing on the coronavirus. “People are stealing other folks identities and filing claims.”

Adkins said those who receive claim award letters, when they’ve never filed, should contact WorkForce.

“Contact us immediately. We’re working with state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and prosecute those bad actors,” Adkins said.

Some of the fraud appears to be coming from outside of West Virginia, Adkins said.

“We’ve also identified several fraudulent IP addresses from across the country and some from outside the United States that are attempting to file claims here in West Virginia,” he said.

The agency had added a couple of steps to its filing and updating process to make sure a request isn’t fraudulent.

“There’s some other safeguards that we’ve put in place that will ask for additional information as you file that claim or you make those weekly certifications,” Adkins said.

The toll-free number to report fraud is 1-800-379-1032. The caller should select option six.

Claims update

Adkins also gave an update Wednesday on the number of unemployment claims filed since the pandemic began. He said WorkForce has processed approximately 250,000 claims in the past 10 weeks totaling $701 million in benefits. Adkins said in all of 2019, there were 46,862 claims filed in West Virginia.

“So we’ve handled five times more claims (with the pandemic) than in an entire year,” he said.

Adkins said there remain approximately 12,500 claims that still have issues and there’s been no payment made to unemployed residents. He said an adjudication process is underway and unfortunately it will take several weeks to resolve.

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