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Wash. pays out ‘hundreds of millions’ in bogus jobless benefits

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Impostors have used the stolen information of tens of thousands of people in Washington to fraudulently receive hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits, the head of the state’s Employment Security Department said Thursday.

Commissioner Suzi LeVine said the state is working with federal law enforcement, financial institutions and the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the fraud and try to recover the money paid out during the huge spike in joblessness during the coronavirus crisis.

LeVine said she can’t release specific numbers or details of the ongoing investigation. But she said that countermeasures taken by the state have “prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to criminals and have prevented thousands of fraudulent claims being filed.”

LeVine said that in addition to other measures the agency has already taken, they will continue to delay payments — a step they first took last week — to all applicants in order to take extra steps to verify claims. Previously, applicants set up for direct deposit receive their money within 24 to 48 hours. Now, they will need to wait an additional two days.

The New York Times and Seattle Times have previously reported that a U.S. Secret Service alert issued last week identified Washington as the top target so far of a Nigerian fraud ring seeking to commit large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs. LeVine said she couldn’t speak to the details of the investigation, but said that the Secret Service alert wasn’t directly shared with her, and that the agency received it through other sources.

But LeVine said agency officials realized something was amiss before that alert, once they started receiving communication from employers or employees who received information about unemployment benefits that the employee didn’t seek.

More than 1.1 million people in Washington have filed for unemployment benefits since businesses started closing in March due to COVID-19, but state officials said Thursday they believe some portion of an increase in claims seen in the past week are due to so-called “impostor fraud” claims.

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Crime And Courts / Government-politics / News

The Associated Press



  1. I wonder if the Nigerian’s will decide to influence the 2020 vote by mail election. If they can pull off a heist of the nature under the nose of the state what could go wrong with universal mail in votes.

    1. you do realize that the federal and state government feel the US Postal Service is plenty safe for delivery of driver’s licenses, Passports (the very ID’s used to vote), social security checks, income tax return checks, and just a mountain of other official things – if you don’t have any actual information indicating some voter security issues with mail in ballots (compared to web based computer systems? …come on) you should really stop being such a shill for the entities promoting voter suppression with this latest ruse – you are doing the American voting public a tremendous disservice

  2. “We’re broke. Somebody stole the money.”

    “We gave all the money to impeachment groups, climate change, and illegal aliens, and now we are broke. Tough poo on ya Washingtonians”.
    There. Fixed it for ya

  3. That’s pretty much how our government handles everything. And don’t tell me banks don’t know the identity of the recipient, it would have been obvious to verify that the funds go to the person’s account not some bogus number.
    Pathetic, WA taxpayers must be happy to cover the losses of the incompetent administration.

  4. Hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the state and not a word from the worthless waste of space governor. Ill never understand how people like him actually get votes…

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