Alabama Department of Labor still investigating unemployment fraud
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Did millions in federal COVID pandemic relief money end up in the wrong hands? At the height of the pandemic the unemployment rate in the state was 13.7 percent.
With that many people out of work and federal relief available, it was an ideal time for scammers to do their dirt.
The Department of Labor is still actively investigating thousands of potential fraud cases and will hand those cases over to law enforcement to prosecute.
Department of Labor spokesperson Tara Hutchinson says at the beginning of the year, the agency was sifting through 300-thousand potential unemployment fraud claims that were pandemic related.
“There was unemployment fraud before the pandemic but certainly not at this level,” said Hutchinson.
She says they were looking for instances of people who were in fact working but still filing for unemployment nonetheless. Or filing unemployment under fraudulent identities.
The agency was able to catch 100-thousand of those claims but it still has more to go through.
We’re still asking for how many people have been turned over to authorities.
“We all believe that that’s attributable to the fact that there was so much more money available through those pandemic programs instead of the normal $275 per week. And in Alabama you could get up to $875 per week, so that amount of money that was available went up which of course going to increase the amount of fraud you have as well.”
Now, two and a half years later, the Department of Labor is better equipped to detect potential cases of fraud.
Different verification methods, tighter security checks, cross checks.
Those are just a few examples of how they’re trying to catch criminals.
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