Received unemployment checks but never applied? You could be a scam victim

Received unemployment checks but never applied? You could be a scam victim

PITTSBURGH — People are continuing to tell Channel 11 they have not received their unemployment money from the state government. Still others said they’ve received checks in the mail, but have never applied.

“I couldn’t believe it. First of all, I haven’t worked for 15 years and I never signed up for it,” Leona Alexas said.

She got two of them in her mailbox, totaling more than $6,000. She held onto the them because she said she didn’t know what to do.

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She contacted 11 Investigates for help.

“It’s very upsetting to me because I know some people who applied for it and found out they weren’t eligible. Here, I’m not eligible and I get it,” Alexas said.

The checks are real, but it’s likely she was the victim of a scam.

Scammers are stealing identities and applying for benefits through the Pennsylvania Unemployment Assistance program which was set up to help laid off workers due to the coronavirus. The Department of Labor is now sending checks directly to the name on the application, not bank accounts.

“There were 58,000 claims that we looked at and investigated to see if they were fraudulent. It didn’t take us long to see a significant majority of those were legitimate claims,” Labor Secretary Jerry Oleksiak said.

Alexas’ name was not legitimate, leading to an investigation by the Joint Fraud Working Group which includes Attorney General Josh Shapiro and the US Attorney in Philadelphia.

“Someone has all of my identity. That’s what’s scary. I’ve been a victim before and I don’t want to be a victim again,” she said.

If you get one of these checks, the Attorney General’s Office said do not use the money. Instead, you should report the scam to the Department of Labor and Industry to help them track the situation.

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