OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter announced on Wednesday, April 29, his office has developed a new resource to help process unemployment fraud claims.
Individuals or businesses that receive bogus claims are asked to fill out a new form on the attorney general’s website, where the claim will then be directed to the proper law enforcement agency.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has identified more than 3800 fictitious claims since mid-March and are reviewing hundreds of other suspicious filings.
“We are hearing from claimants blocked from filing for unemployment benefits because a claim in their name has already been submitted,” said OESC Executive Director Robin Roberson. “For individuals who lost their job due to the oil crisis or COVID-19 related business closures, discovering their identity has been used to file a bogus unemployment claim only adds to the devastation our neighbors are experiencing.”
Identity theft is occurring at an alarming rate. The pandemic provides additional opportunity for fraudsters to swindle government assistance programs designed to help legitimate claimants to provide for their families during difficult times.
“Under normal circumstances, bogus claims are typically identified on the front end,” Roberson said. “An employer has 10 days to respond to notice of an unemployment claim filed against the business before the claim is adjudicated and eligibility is determined. That’s still the process. Now, a spike in bogus claims is resulting in a legitimate claimant learning they’re unable to file because someone jumped ahead of them in the process using their identity.”
OESC is coordinating its efforts with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the Attorney General to identify fraudulent unemployment claimants. Additional security features have been added to the online filing process to impede the ability of an individual or bot from seeking to profit from this crisis.
“After conferring with federal, state and local law enforcement authorities, our office has determined we are well positioned to help victims of unemployment fraud and the OESC, which has seen an inordinate amount of complaints,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Right now, thousands of Oklahomans have a legitimate need for the financial assistance offered by OESC. The hard working citizens of Oklahoma deserve access to these funds, not con artists around the world who are using this public health crisis as an opportunity to exploit our residents and businesses.
“I encourage those who believe they are victims of unemployment fraud, whether as an individual or business, to submit this form to our office, which will allow law enforcement to investigate. I am proud of our team at the Attorney General’s Office who are all stepping up and taking on additional duties during this difficult time.”
Criminals who commit unemployment fraud use the names, addresses and other information to fraudulently file for unemployment benefits intended for Oklahomans. The individual or business being defrauded is notified by mail their name has been used to collect unemployment benefits.
Oklahomans can stop false claims made in their names by contacting the OESC at (405) 962-4602 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on false claims and other resources related to unemployment for individuals and business owners, visit https://oesc.ok.gov/.
Individuals are also encouraged to fill out the new form and submit it to the Attorney General’s Office so the claim can be investigated by law enforcement.