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Michigan reports fake jobless filers

by The New York Times | April 8, 2021 at 1:52 a.m.

About 100,000 likely fraudulent unemployment claims have been filed in Michigan since Friday, Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency said Wednesday.

Those claims, which were for the federal program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, were stopped for identity verification and not issued payments, the agency said. Claims are filed using previously stolen or fraudulent personal information, and no personal data from claimants has been stolen.

"Because of the additional fraud protections we developed last year at the onset of these coordinated attacks on state unemployment agencies, these fraudulent claims have been stopped and no payments have been sent," Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the agency, said in a news release.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

It's been nearly a year since the U.S. Secret Service warned consumers of a Nigerian crime ring that was filing fraudulent jobless claims across the country. Fraudulent claims continue to plague the state agency, ultimately slowing benefits to legitimate filers.

At that point, the agency had relaxed certain fraud protection policies in order to speed up the delivery of benefits for the millions of Michigan residents who were out of work at the start of the pandemic.

It's estimated that "hundreds of millions" of mostly federal dollars were sent to criminals, according to an estimate from Deloitte & Touche LLP and the agency, before those fraud policies were reinstated.

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