DFS announced on Thursday that it has thwarted more than $1 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims during the coronavirus pandemic, identifying and stopping more than 42,200 fraudulent unemployment benefit claims since mid-March.
In the past five months, the Department of Labor has referred more unemployment fraud cases to federal prosecutors than it did in the past 10 years combined, an Aug. 13 DFS press release stated.
Fraudsters are using New York residents’ identities — likely stolen during previous data breaches involving financial institutions, insurance companies and major employers — to file fraudulent claims and illegally collect benefits in the name of individuals who are not unemployed, according to the press release.
“Preying on the welfare of New Yorkers during a global pandemic is a new low,” said Linda Lacewell, DFS superintendent. “We urge every New Yorker to be vigilant and take all necessary precautions to protect your identity and help put a stop to this.”
In response to the increase in fraudulent claims, Lacewell and Roberta Reardon, commissioner of the DOL, released a public service announcement in an effort to educate New Yorkers about how to protect themselves against identity theft.