The New York State Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations prevented stealing of more than $12 billion in unemployment benefits during Covid-19 pandemic.
The department which used new high-tech tools and dlstrategies has identified over 1 million fraudulent claims.
The NYS DOL has also offered tips to New Yorkers on how to protect themselves against fraud and help stop cyber criminals in their tracks.
It was reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, New York State has paid over $81.3 billion in unemployment benefits to over 4.6 million New Yorkers.
“NYS DOL has announced that it has identified over 1.1 Million fraudulent unemployment benefit claims during the COVID-19 pandemic, preventing fraudsters from stealing more than $12.3 billion in benefits,” the report reads.
It continues, “It works aggressively to identify and prevent unemployment compensation fraud and continues to partner with law enforcement on the federal, state, and local level, including the US DOL Office of Inspector General, the Secret Service, and the FBI, to hold fraudsters accountable.”
The NYS DOL is also warning New Yorkers to remain vigilant and only respond to official communications sent by the New York State Department of Labor.
The alert comes in the wake of widespread reports of fraudsters using fake communications such as phishing texts and emails seeking personal information from claimants presumably, in many instances, to file fraudulent unemployment compensation claims or for other nefarious purposes.
“Our Office of Special Investigations is aggressively deploying advanced resources, from artificial intelligence, to tools like ID.me, to fight this fraud,” said New York State Department of Commissioner Roberta Reardon.
“While our investigators are always one step ahead of stopping these criminals who are attempting to steal unemployment benefits that provide a lifeline to New Yorkers, we also need the public’s help in reporting anything that looks suspicious. We are urging them to refer to the tips in this release to protect themselves against fraud and to help us in our efforts to catch these fraudsters.”
NYS DOL, therefore, explained ways New Yorkers could report any suspicious moves regarding unemployment benefits.
“If New Yorkers receive an official communication from the NYS DOL regarding unemployment benefits that they did not apply for, they may be a victim of fraud and identity theft. Official communication includes, but is not limited to, emails, text messages, letters, debit cards, and tax forms received in the mail.
“They should immediately report suspected UI fraud at on.ny.gov/uifraud, and suspected identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). https://www.identitytheft.gov/,” it said.
“After reporting suspected fraud through the NYS DOL’s online form, individuals will receive an email confirmation that the NYS DOL has received the report. NYS DOL will only call the individual if our Office of Special Investigations needs more information about the reported fraud.
“Once a report is filed, the NYS DOL immediately shuts down the fraudulent claim and no more benefits are paid. The NYS DOL uses a number of strategies to stop most fraud before the first dollar is paid,” it added.