A widespread fraud scheme has been uncovered by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The IDES officials are investigating the scheme that is being conducted nationwide. According to the IDES officials, the fraud scheme impacted the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs of each state. The PUA programs were implemented in each state as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The individuals who remained uncovered in the state’s regular unemployment insurance program were assisted by the federally funded PUA program. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed individuals got 100% benefits under these PUA programs nationwide. The self-employed and sole proprietors were also included in the PUA programs, according to the IDES.
Under the PUA program, the claimants acquired 39 weeks’ worth of benefits from February 2, 2020, to December 26, 2020. The IDES officials are working with an aggressive approach to crack down this fraud network. According to the Department, a dedicated team of staffers is investigating the fraud scheme. The Department is working directly with the individuals whose identities have possibly been stolen.
The IDES is also working closely with the federal and state law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute those who are involved in the fraud scheme. The fraudsters allegedly stole the identities of the individuals to file PUA claims on their behalf. They used a cyber hack or data breach tactic to acquire confidential information, according to the IDES.
The federal agencies developed and issued the guidelines in haste due to the urgency created by the pandemic. This urgency increased the potential for fraud in the PUA program. The individuals faced a PUA program issue in May. However, this fraud scheme is not connected with the access issue. The individuals are advised not to activate the debit card issued to them via mail if they had not issued a claim.