The New York State Labor Department said it has prevented more than $1 billion in unemployment fraud during the coronavirus pandemic. Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said the department identified more than 42,200 fraudulent unemployment benefit claims since mid-March, and it has referred more cases to federal prosecutors than the department did in the last 10 years combined.
State Financial Services Superintedent Linda Lacewell said fraudsters are using real New Yorkers’ identities - likely stolen during previous data breaches involving institutions like banks, insurance companies and major employers - to file fraudulent claims and illegally collect benefits in the name of individuals who are not unemployed.
"We urge every New Yorker to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect your identity and help put a stop to this,” Lacewell said.
She said anyone who receives an official communication about unemployment benefits - like a monetary determination letter - but did not apply for unemployment benefits, to immediately report it to the Labor Department at on.ny.gov/uifraud.
In response to this uptick in fraudulent claims, the department released a new public service announcement educating New Yorkers about identity theft.
The Labor Department’s Office of Special Investigations uses modern technology — including artificial intelligence — to identify and stop fraudulent claims. It works closely with partners at the Inspector General's Office, Secret Service, FBI and local law enforcement.