GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Michigan is now working with state police and the United States Secret Service in a fraud ring investigation targeting unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A lot of people are getting the same email sent in from Steve Gray, the director of Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency.
Hundreds if not thousands say the state is putting a “stop payment indicator” on their unemployment accounts.
“I’ve worked my whole life. I’m entitled to these benefits especially now,” said Robert Schofield of Grand Rapids.
He just got the email this week.
“Their answer to that is for me to wait for a form in the regular mail, which could take a week, and then I’m to fill out that form, take a picture of that, take a picture of my ID front and back and my social security card front and back and send all that in,” said Schofield.
The email reads in part, “your claim has been identified as requiring additional identity verification steps and if you received a stop payment notice on your account, you’ll need to submit additional identifying information to receive your benefits.”
“The email that they sent me on one hand they said, ‘oh we’re stopping your payments but oh don’t worry, be assured there hasn’t been a problem with fraud on your account’”, said Schofield.
Just like many others he now has the notifications on his account. Two weeks of payments that he says he’s entitled to are now on hold.
“Nonetheless the rent’s due, I have no food in my apartment and I think it’s totally unnecessary.”
Michigan State Police sent out another email warning people of fraudulent unemployment claims. It says while no personal data has been stolen from the UIA, criminals are trying to use the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to get free money.
So to prevent the fraud, the Michigan UIA has issued those “stop payment indicators” on different accounts until it verifies identities.
The UIA says it’s still working with police to determine who here in Michigan is fraudulently collecting unemployment.
Some believe it’s just another ploy to hold off on paying people who qualify for benefits.
“And I’m saying if they want to go after fraudsters then they need to do that correctly and not attack the legitimate people that are drawing these claims,” said Schofield.
So here’s what you need to do if you got this email:
From your MIWAM account, under the “I want to” section, click on “send unemployment a message.” That’s where you can upload your documents.
Along with the UIA 6347 form, you need to include your passport, permanent resident card or state issued ID, and social security card or a copy of your birth certificate.
We’re told there’s no other need to contact the UIA and if the agency has questions, it will reach out to you.