By Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts is still seeing “large numbers of illegitimate unemployment claims” nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic as a result of a nationwide scam. The Department of Unemployment Assistance said Thursday it has prevented $19.2 billion in “fraudulent payments” from being dispersed between April 2020 and January 2021.

There have been $219 million in issued payments confirmed to be fraudulent, and $468 million payments that are potentially fraudulent over that same time period. About $252 million in fraudulent payments have been recovered.

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“As previously announced, criminal enterprises in possession of stolen personal information from earlier, unrelated commercial data breaches continue to attempt to file large numbers of illegitimate unemployment claims through the Massachusetts unemployment system,” the department said.

Out of more than two million claims for unemployment insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the state has identified 156,000 as fraudulent.

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The department said it is using “enhanced identity verification measures” that may slow down payments for some claims in order to root out fraud. It is also warning about a scam targeting Massachusetts residents where a text message with a link asks claimants to enter their login and password on a site resembling the official state unemployment website.

Anyone who thinks a fake unemployment claim was filed in their name should fill out a fraud contact form here. 

Learn more about applying for unemployment benefits in Massachusetts here.

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