Target 11: Unemployment fraud continues to be a problem

Unemployment fraud continues to be a problem as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

So many stories have been shared about people who have had difficulty getting benefits.

But for some people the checks keep coming, even though they never applied.

Michelle Tomson’s family owns and operates Learnerville Speedway in Sarver. She reported that while she was at work in June, both her husband and brother-in-law got an email from the unemployment office that stated that she had signed up.

“I was at work ... getting ready for the biggest race that we have in the season,” she said.

She reached out to the state’s unemployment office, and after waiting on hold for two hours was able to speak to someone about the incident. She also filed an online fraud submission and canceled all her credit cards and bank accounts.

But the checks arrived in the mail anyway.

She then spent several more hours waiting on hold, to be told the state Treasury Department would need to be contacted. She did that, but never heard back.

State officials say they are aware of the fraud incidents and are investigating them.

According to experts who monitor unemployment compensation, there’s been an uptick in fraudulent claims since June when the state unveiled a new online system that’s supposed to make it easier to apply for benefits.

The Department of Labor and Industry said they have acted swiftly to put new antifraud mechanisms in place to deter and catch new methods of fraud.