Fraudulent unemployment claims continue to plague ODJFS

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — As an administrative assistant at a Columbus-area asphalt company, Marcia Cremeans handles filing, payroll, and unemployment claims.

“Our people get laid off, because you can’t do asphalt in the winter,” said Marcia.

And while sorting through mail in February, a letter to the company from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services caught her attention. It was an unemployment claim, with her name on it.

“The last name is spelled incorrectly, but it had the last four of my social,” said Marcia.

Marcia called the Department of Job and Family Services, who told her to mark the form as fraudulent, which she did — twice. But when she opened the mail just a few weeks later, Marcia received a form, indicating that money had been paid out. $1,440 in Marcia’s name, paid to someone else.

“I don’t understand how unemployment could release funds to a person, when I didn’t complete the form,” said Marcia.

The fraudulent claim also kept Marcia from getting financial help when she actually needed it.

“I was unemployed from January 22 to February 16, and I could not get unemployment, because somebody was already using my social.”

And Marcia said getting through to the fraud department wasn’t easy.

“Every time I have called it, they don’t answer. They’re too busy.”

Because of the overwhelming obstacles the department’s facing, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine brought in a team of banking and insurance experts to help process claims, and address fraud. But earlier this month, he and Lt. Governor Jon Husted sent a letter to the White House, asking for more support.

“We are trying to identify tech solutions to solve the problem in Ohio,” said Husted. “And we’re hopeful that we can work with the Biden Administration to do that.”

Marcia said she did eventually get through to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and the agency confirmed that her claim is now marked as fraudulent.

While we wait to see if there is a national response, you can still report fraud to ODJFS, online or over the phone at 833-658-0394, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

You can also report it to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud.

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