A Nigerian fraud ring is said to have swiped millions of dollars in unemployment benefits – funds to help undocumented Americans.
The complex and pervasive theft scheme is used to identify false claims on behalf of workers who do not even lose their jobs, using identity data stolen from citizens, including Social Security numbers. According to a New York Times report.
Federal authorities believe most of the fake claims have been filed in Washington state, despite evidence of similar attacks in six states – Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming. .
The ring could end up stealing “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the state’s unemployment sector, which is completely submerged by Americans desperate for financial stability after the economy’s shutdown.
Roy Dodson, special agent for the Secret Service, told the Times that investigators are still trying to determine who is behind the attacks and where they are operating.
“We are actively taking every lead we can get,” Dodson said.
Investigators believe that a network of intermediaries in the United States may be involved as intermediaries or “donkeys” for the operation.
They also fear that attackers must have personal identifying information in order to make such a widespread impact on state unemployment.
“It is assumed that the fraud ring behind this has a substantial P.I.I. [Personally Identifiable Information] According to the Times, the database to submit the volume of applications so far observed, ”the memo said.
Signs of fraud are reported to have spread throughout the country.
The Times has found that the Rhode Island Labor Department has looked into the suspicious claims.
Confused workers and business owners in Washington state were sent to unemployed officials by unemployment announcements even though they did not make demands.
“It’s a gut punch,” Suzy Levine, commissioner of the Occupational Safety Department in Washington State, told the Times.