LANSING, Mich. — More than a year after additional money started flowing to people facing unemployment, state officials say they are seeing a huge effort by criminals to get their hands on some of those funds.
The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency says from April 2 to April 7 it flagged nearly 100,000 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The large number of suspected fraud cases is part of a large increase in the total number of claims made over the 5 day period reported by the agency.
According to the UIA, no money has been distributed to the flagged cases.
Investigators believe the claims are being made with stolen personal identity information. The agency says no data has been taken from its records.
The money for PUA comes from the federal government, but is managed through the state's unemployment office. Officials say the additional funds attracted criminals from the beginning.
“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,” said Liza Estlund Olson, acting director of the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
The UIA says it will send at least one letter to the address on file for the identity used in the claim. If you receive a letter, and did not file for unemployment, you can report the situation to the UIA through its website.