Many people have been down on their luck since the coronavirus pandemic began. They have lost jobs and are struggling financially. For some weeks in 2020, unemployment claims topped several million. Scammers are taking advantage of this and filing their own unemployment claims — but the difference is that their claims are fraudulent.
Maryland is getting inundated with fraudulent claims from scammers claiming to have lost their jobs. While the identity theft ring started back in July, it has only gotten worse. Just since the new year started, the Maryland Department of Labor has received more than 156,000 claims that are believed to be fraudulent. This accounts for roughly two-thirds of all claims.
The scammers are using the mailing addresses of various residents but changing the names. Some residents have received multiple letters from the labor department with debit cards for benefits inside. Residents are stunned as to what is happening. The labor department is asking people who receive these letters to mark them as “return to sender.” However, those who receive these false claim letters should be vigilant, as the scammers will likely go to their house to try to retrieve the fraudulent debit cards.
Some Maryland residents are seeing unemployment claims filed in their names as well, which can signal identity theft. People have called the labor office, but to no avail. The phone lines are super busy as people who have legitimately filed claims try to receive their benefits. The fraud cases are now being handled by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General. Nobody has been arrested for this fraud scheme as of yet.
So what should you do if you are a victim? If you receive a debit card for unemployment benefits from the State of Maryland or another state, and you did not file for unemployment, you should either return the envelope or immediately destroy it.
Some people may not even know they are a victim of unemployment fraud until they receive a tax notice. Those who have filed for unemployment will receive a 1099-G tax form in the mail. If you receive one but didn’t file for benefits, be sure to report the fraud to the appropriate agency and check your credit to look for additional fraud. There is an IRS site that discusses the issue in more detail.
Fraud is a serious issue. Many people engage in it as a quick and easy way to make money, but such an act harms individuals, companies and government entities. When people engage in fraud, they take money away from someone who legitimately needs it.
Fraud is a crime that can affect your employment and other aspects of life for many years. Let the Columbia white collar crime lawyers at The Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. investigate your case. We can provide you with a solid defense. Schedule a consultation with our office today. Fill out the online form or call (410) 774-5987. We have two offices to serve you.
7310 Ritchie Highway, Suite 910
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
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10440 Little Patuxent Parkway,
Columbia, MD 21044