FileUnemployment

Falsely Claimed Unemployment Benefits

Author : michelle

Updated : December 4th, 2018

Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud includes collecting UI benefits that are based on providing false, unreported, or misreported information while filing a claim. Anyone who is filing a claim, reopening a claim, or certifying for UI benefits is legally responsible to make sure that they follow the requirements that are set by the law of the state that they reside in. UI fraud can occur in more than one form, it could range from intended criminal activity to someone providing incomplete or inaccurate data that results in receiving UI benefits.

unemployment insurance fraud

What Happens When You Falsely Claim Unemployment Benefits?

Falsely claiming UI benefits is considered to be Unemployment fraud and can lead to serious penalties and consequences. The penalties can range from monetary fines, penalty weeks of unemployment to serving a prison term.

Benefits Repayment

Irrespective of whether the person commits unemployment benefits intentionally, unknowingly, or even if it is a clerical error, the amount needs to be repaid to the state’s labor office. The labor office sends the concerned person a benefits overpayment notice that contains the details of how much unemployment benefits they owe the state. The details for repayment differ from one state to the other. If the person does not repay the money in time or set up a payment plan, the debt is transferred to a collection agency and may also show on one’s credit card report.

Penalty Weeks

Certain states assess penalty weeks to people who indicate an intention to defraud the unemployment insurance plan. Penalty weeks refer to the weeks of unemployment benefits that the person may qualify for at any given point in future but will not be receiving it as a punishment for over collecting the benefits in the past. This system differs from benefits repayment in numerous cases. In penalty weeks, the person first pays back what he/she has fraudulently collected and then serves several weeks of unemployment without payment.

Monetary Fines

In a case where the state labor department has discovered that a person has intentionally set out to defraud the unemployment program, he/she can face a criminal prosecution for it. In such a situation, the case goes to criminal court where a judge reviews the evidence of the case against the accused to establish whether he/she is guilty of the intent of UI fraud. If the judge finds the crime to be severe and warrants it, the person may be assessed a monetary fine. The fine does not include repaying the overdrawn benefits, and it to be paid to the court.

Prison Term

In the severest cases of UI fraud, the person guilty needs to serve prison time. This is usually given to those who exhibit numerous counts of fraud or defraud the state of large amounts through benefits received from illegal ways. The period of prison time differs according to the state law and the preceding judge’s discretion. The jail time usually varies from one year and can go upto five years as well.

Cases Where People Have Been Caught with Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Unemployment Insurance fraud seldom goes unnoticed. They can be identified through a number of ways. Some of them include:

  • New employers hire reports
  • Quality Control Audits
  • Public tips by internet, telephone or mail
  • Claim Center Referrals
  • Cross-matches with some government records
  • Other investigative efforts

Mentioned below are a few cases of UI fraud along with the verdicts of the presiding judges.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Three individuals, Kenneth Dixon, Jamela Washington, and Natika Washington were convicted following a 5-day jury trial in Ann Arbor. The charges were related to identity theft, it involved fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits.

The defendants were charged with the use of counterfeit access devices, theft of government money, identity theft, and conspiracy to commit those offenses. The evidence presented at trial determined that between October 2009 until April 2012, the accused were systematically involved in a conspiracy to obtain the personal information of unsuspecting victims, and then used that information to submit fraudulent online claims for unemployment compensation benefits.

The guilty verdicts of the three individuals were the cumulation of an expansive investigation into a conspiracy that victimized individuals by stealing their identities and defrauded the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency of more than $400,000. All three guilty individuals were sentenced to serve 10 years of federal prison time in September 2017.

Indiana Unemployment Insurance Fraud Case

William Hicks, 45, of Indiana was charged with unemployment fraud after which he pleaded guilty. The department discovered that Hicks was working and receiving wages while claiming unemployment insurance benefits through the agency records.

Hicks was sentenced to two years of probation in addition to repaying the benefits that were fraudulently claimed. The amount of falsely claimed benefits exceeded $38,000.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud Case, Miami

An Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD) employee began to investigate Joseph Meier and found evidence that he was claiming unemployment insurance benefits while he was working and receiving wages.

39-year old Meier was ordered to pay back $12,607, to the state after he pleaded guilty of unemployment insurance fraud. Meier was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to repay the amount of benefits claimed along with 8% of interest per annum for the benefits that were fraudulently collected.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud in Michigan City & Indiana

Leo Wilson, 51 of Michigan City was sentenced to 2 years of probation and ordered to repay the department $22,836.50 for the benefits that he had fraudulently collected.

Sherry Beoughter, 46, of Valparaiso was sentenced to 545 days of probation and ordered to repay $13,334.10 for the benefits that she fraudulently collected.

The IDWD’s unemployment insurance fraud investigation task force identified the pair. The force examines claims of individuals who provide false, misreported, or unreported information on purpose in order to fraudulently avail benefits.

Unemployment Insurance Fraud Case, Iowa

A Williamsburg man was convicted of unemployment fraud and was ordered to serve a 100 day jail term for defrauding Iowa’s unemployment insurance program. Paul Meade, 55, had been convicted of fraudulent practice in third degree.

Meade said that he filed for unemployment insurance benefits between December 27, 2015 and June 25, 2016. All through the period, Meade was being paid by Whirlpool Corp.

Meade pleaded guilty to the charge on July 20, 2017. The state department states that Meade collected $10,747 worth of benefits during the 6-month period. It also announced that he would have to repay $12,359.05 to the state; which includes more than $1,600 as penalty.

Tips to Avoid Unemployment Insurance Fraud

The best way to avoid committing UI fraud is to first understand what must not be done and what needs to be done. Sometimes people are unaware that they are falsely claiming for benefits.

Here are some tips to follow to avoid committing unemployment insurance fraud:

  • Always report your employment before you make a claim. Employment includes cash jobs, self-employment, commission, 1099 or temporary
  • Do not misrepresent information or make a false statement to increase or receive benefits
  • Always report your work refusals
  • Do not fabricate job searches. Conduct enough work research
  • Always report a work separation
  • Do not use another individual’s identity (name and/or social security number) to file for insurance payments
  • Always report other types of reimbursements such as Worker’s Compensation payments
  • You must report it if you are incapable and not available to work (for example, sickness, injured, living abroad, etc)
  • Do not help someone else file a fraudulent insurance claim

falsely claimed unemployment insurance

What Can You Do If You’ve Unknowingly Committed UI Fraud?

Whether you commit UI fraud unknowingly or intentionally, you need to pay back all the benefits that you have collected. The payment may also include a penalty that could go up to 50% of that sum. In most cases, it may also include getting disqualified from receiving future benefits. In severe cases where the amount withdrawn is too high, the person may also face fines or look at prison time. However, the policies that oversee unemployment insurance fraud vary from state to state.

If you have committed unemployment insurance fraud by mistake, it’s best to notify the department of labor and offer to repay the amount collected. UI fraud hardly ever goes unnoticed. You will definitely have to repay the amount that you have overdrawn, you might also have to pay a small fine. But it’s most likely to not be more severe that than.

If you are currently unemployed and on the lookout for jobs, keep your optimism levels high. Search for jobs endlessly and attend as many interviews as you can. Good times are always ahead and the most important thing to stay hopeful and search endlessly. You can also visit  Community Forums to interact with peers and professionals to seek guidance during this time.

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  1. I applied for unemployment on 8-1 and was approved. I received my letter of eligibility and debit card about a week ago. I did not file my intitial bi weekly claim because I missed the deadline by 1 day (didn’t realize they would be closed on Saturday). When I logged on it said I would have to reopen a claim because mine had been closed. I filled out the online form to deactivate the claim. My question is this: will I have another waiting week? And will unemployment have to contact my employer all over again to verify my wages and go through the entire process all over again or will they just reopen the claim with a new date window to file?

  2. Lost my job in 10/2018 due to plant closure, collected vacation and severance pay. Opened a claim in 1/2019. Got an on the job training job through career link in 5/2019 worked one week and became very sick and was off for two weeks VA could not find anything wrong but gave me medication for the symptoms and an excuse to return to work, prior to returning got a call from my recruiter at career link telling me the position was filled so i did not return. Reopened my claim, a few weeks later got a letter informing me the employer had appealed and said i did not return, had a hearing and the employer did not show but i lost and got a 2500.00 over payment. Got a temp job through an agency but have only worked 4 days in two weeks. Reopened my claim and was told i need to earn 2604.00 from current employer before it can be opened, did i do something wrong? Still applying for work but am days away from losing everything, need income to pay bills. PLEASE HELP

    1. Rodney,

      Your eligibility to claim UI benefits depends on multiple factors including monetary eligibility. If you’ve been officially told about the shortage of earnings, there’s nothing much one can do. If you’re still confident of winning the appeal, please make a strong case.

      1. I live in KY but my base wages were from earnings in GA when I lived there. I’ve exhausted my benefits in KY. Am I able to now file through GA since my earnings through 10/18 came from there?

        1. Dee,

          As much as I am aware, Unemployment Insurance is a one time cycle. Please call the Unemployment Office in GA for more.

  3. The hours at work have been cut due to lack of business for every department.
    So all full-time positions are now part-time.
    How do I file for partial unemployment?
    The only options I see (in Texas) are for full unemployment.

    1. Eric,

      You should be able to claim partial UI benefits. Please consider applying online until full hours are restored.

    1. William,

      If everything goes well, it should not take more than 7-10 business days (waiting week). Please call the Claims Center for more.

  4. I was employed by a VA company for 5 years, my contract ended yesterday (07/31/19), however, I worked remotely for those 5 years and live in FL, which state do I apply to for my unemployment benefits?

    1. Oscar,

      Please check with your employer if they remitted UI taxes into the system. Contract workers are generally not eligible.

        1. Oscar,

          In that case, please go ahead and apply if your employer remitted UI taxes into the system.

    2. You apply in Virginia…however, I worked seasonally and they used a ‘quarter’ that was empty, so even though my employer paid in, I only got a 1/3 of what I should have received. Figured that out later :/ They will also question WHY you aren’t able and available to work IN Virginia. They froze my account for about a month.

  5. I worked 37 years with the same company in Texas. On July 2nd of 2018, I was let go due to workforce reduction. I signed up for benefits several months later and now have drawn my 26 weeks of benefit. Is there any program currently open in Texas or federally that will extend additional money while job seeking?

    1. Lonnie,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  6. I have been an employee of my company for 34 yrs. My position is being eliminated but I have been offered another position for less money. It is a much more physical job that I am not sure I can perform well. I am 75. If I try to fulfill the position and cannot do it, will I still be able to get benefits if I quit? They want me to try it for a couple of weeks to see if I am strong enough and if I can afford the cut in pay.

    1. Lynda,

      I suggest you call the Unemployment Office to find out about eligibility before making a decision on continuation.

      1. I recently lost my job..i was late for work and they took me off the schedule..never told me i was fired..didnt ask for uniforms back. Another cook was andd has been late for work and he didnt get taken off the schedule.can i still get unemployment?

        1. Kandie,

          Please note UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to no fault of their own. You can call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

  7. Are there any training benefits or programs that will pay for an advanced degree, such as a PhD which is needed to become more employable?

    1. There are multiple training programs administered by the Labor Department in each state. For more info, please call visit the official website of the Unemployment Office.

  8. I’m about to exhaust my Unemployment benefits. I was laid off from my first job and
    found employment then I lost my job and became unemployed again. I applied for benefits and have have almost exhausted my benefits but have not found employment. Can I file for an extension?

    1. Deanna,

      The E.U.C(Emergency Unemployment Compensation) remains expired. There is no extension available. Please inquire further with the labor authorities in your state by calling them.

  9. After reading your article it’s still not clear to me about requirements surrounding moving to another state and completing/continuing to collect. I have 8 weeks eligibility left, I am moving from MA to FL. The end of your article says: “Since it’s all virtual (online), you may still consider the option of continuing your claims from the base state even if you move to a different one until completion. As a responsible claimant, it’s your duty to inform the base state about your movement to ensure there are no hassles in the near future.”

    So it sounds like even once I am in new state I am eligible to continue to collect from my base state. I can just continue to do my required weekly job search and reporting to and filing in my base state (I do it via phone call-in). No need to complicate things by doing some crazy state transfer of benefits. Benefits also done via direct bank deposit and no need to change anything. Do I even need to tell my base state I am now living in a new state? Why? Thank you.

    1. Paul,

      For the ease of understanding, each state has its specific rules and laws with regard to administering Unemployment Benefits. It might be an obligation for a claimant to inform about the movement. For clarification, please call the Unemployment Office and speak to a representative.

  10. I was recently fired from my work 25-June-2019/due to me not meeting their “standards/ expectations” i submitted my UE claim on 28-June and have not received any pay as of today, 19-July. The status is currently “adjudication in progress,” my question is, should i be worried this will be denied? I read the FAQ on the UE webpage and it said only a couple applications require the adjudication process. How long does this process usually take to get the final answer of whether I’m denied or approved? The website stated it susuallt takes ~25 days for the adjudication process, does this mean once that’s done then i still have to wait another 2-6 weeks for final processing after? THANK YOU SOO MUCH to whomever is able to provide me with some answers/ input.

    Sincerely,
    Talia
    ** this is my first time ever being fired or having to file for unemployment so i really have nooooo idea what is standard or normal or whatever. I feel like an idiot with my simple questions but it would bring me so much relief having them answered, truly

    1. Talia,

      I can understand your reason for the anxiety. Adjudication is a fact-finding process where both the claimant and the employer will get an opportunity to present their case. During this process, make sure to produce supporting documents that amplify your stance. For all you know, the adjudication can be a lengthy process.

      Best Wishes!

  11. I was permanently severanced from my job due to a Co. Reorg & received my last severance pay last week. I called UE & was told that I should now do my application online since I will no longer be getting funds & still without a job & that this coming Sunday regardless of knowing if I will or will not get benefits yet that I should still file a weekly claim in case of UE back pay.
    So my question is, do I still have to report 4 jobs applied to within this week, even if I do not know if I will be approved/denied for benefits until possibly next week anyway?

    1. Lynda,

      You should continue to report the job applications as long as you’ve been asked to do so. There will be a “Waiting Period” and the first payment will take about 7-10 days after which they’ll flow much quicker. Please call the Claims Center for clarification.

  12. I tried to transfer from one state to another. When I left Montana I was told there would be no problem transferring. When I arrived in North Carolina I had trouble reaching the area manager by phone. When he finally called me back he said to meet him for lunch to discuss when and where I would be working. He did not show up for lunch. Then he never returned any of my calls. I went PA to visit a friend a few weeks later and tried there. I met with the hiring manager and was told there should not be a problem doing the transfer since I was still in the system. I called the store a few times and they said it was still pending. Then I was terminated without even a phone call. Am I eligible for unemployment and if so do I file in Montana or North Carolina. I still have a Montana drivers license but I am living in NC.

    1. Stacey,

      As long as you were unemployed involuntarily, you should be able to claim UI benefits. Please consider applying.

  13. I have worked for 32+ years and recently have become unable to work due to health reasons, so I have had to resign from my job. I have contacted SS and will be able to apply for disability but it will take awhile to process. Can I apply for unemployment benefits? I live in WV.

    1. Sandra,

      UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose their employment due to involuntary reasons. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for more.

  14. I had to quit my job at Walmart in Fairmont West Virginia and moved back to my home state ky, I’ve got a son with drug problems and 3 older sisters that are not doing so well in health cause of their age. I didn’t understand about the transfer part they had at Walmart that I could put a date when I could start back because of my car problems I thought when I left I had to go in like in s few days, I’ve applied here at Walmart in Winchester ky 40391 two times already plus dollar store, speedway, truck stop, bp, a few other places it’s been going on 7 months without a job I live with my son and its getting harder on him paying rent and utilities and food, not to mention our personal hygiene stuff I really need help I have no income coming in to help him and his wife out I get foodstamps and Medicaid I was praying I could qualify for unemployment PLEASE HELP!!!

    1. Vicky,

      I can understand your situation. Unfortunately, UI benefits are only extended to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. Please call the Unemployment Office for further clarification.

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