JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi has paid out more than a billion dollars in state and federal money for unemployment claims since the COVID-19 crisis began. But the cases of fraud are increasing.
“These are often sophisticated networks of criminal hackers who will take your information, apply for unemployment and then reap your benefits,” said Governor Tate Reeves.
But that’s not always the case. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security says it can even be a disgruntled family member or friend who gets your information. Which is why they caution you to watch how much information you share in places like social media. If you realize you’re a victim, report it to MDES immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Report that and we will put a stop on the payments that are going to that fraudulent claim," explained MDES Executive Director Jackie Turner.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is also involved and ready to prosecute these cases.
“Some of you may remember after Hurricane Katrina the federal government sent a lot of money back home to Mississippi and Alabama, Louisiana and Alabama and unfortunately we had a lot of fraud associated with that money coming back to the state," said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst. "So we are well-equipped in this office to prosecute this and we have incredible partners as I mentioned with United States Secret Service and at the Department of Labor.”
A different form of fraud is coming from those who keep filing despite being offered their job back.
“The bill that passed the U.S. Congress adds an additional $600," noted Governor Reeves. “That $600 runs out at the end of July. So, even if it was legal, which it’s not, but even if it were... know that that $600 is going away. It’s the middle of June. Take your job back while you can.”
It should be noted there are cases of good cause for not returning and those are considered.