Authorities audit over 2,800 unemployment claims for fraud

VIDEO: Authorities audit over 2,800 unemployment claims for fraud

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - South Carolina officials say more than 2,800 unemployment insurance claims are being investigated for fraud.

As of February 2021, officials have referred 2,855 claims to law enforcement for possible prosecution of fraud for financial gain during the pandemic.

“The federal programs created to help people through the pandemic have, unfortunately, also been very susceptible to criminals eager to take advantage of these funds and circumvent the law for their own financial gain,” SCDEW Executive Director Dan Ellzey said.

The agency says they’ve added new security measures to help combat fraudulent claims.

Ellzey said SCDEW also added staff and software “to deter and detect fraud in the unemployment insurance program.”

“We have worked with the Integrity Data Hub and utilized every service that they offer,” he said. “We implemented ID verification systems and, we cross match claimant data in every manner that is available to us.”

He said the agency has 68 people on the fraud staff who investigate fraud allegations that come to us by tips and leads, cross matching.

Ellzey said anyone who knows of someone who is receiving unemployment insurance fraudulently can report the information to the Department of Employment and Workforce by filling out the fraud form on the dew.sc.gov UI Fraud page.

“We do anticipate cases will move forward and charges will be filed against some of these bad actors,” Ellzey said. “Investigations take time, so it is hard to say when that will happen. If and when charges are filed, we will work to communicate this information.”

If someone is found guilty of unemployment insurance fraud, they will have to repay the benefits and may face possible prison time.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.