Unemployment compensation scams on the rise in Pennsylvania

LATROBE, Pa. — Angel Magalich is employed, but somehow a claim for unemployment compensation popped up in the system under her name. Not only did she never file a claim, but the inconsistencies were striking.

“I was able to get onto the state site, somebody had already created an account on the new unemployment system. I got the confirmation letter where they were going to determine how much I was going to get, they were going to send out a debit card, but they didn’t have some of the right information like the wrong email, different phone number, different type of job title.”

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She’s not alone in having these problems. Police in our area say they’re getting slammed with reports of fraudulent unemployment compensation claims every day.

Police say the best thing to do is file a report so you have record of it. Return the money, and refer to the state’s unemployment compensation website to file a fraud claim.

The state attorney general’s office said they too are getting inundated with reports, and they’re working on it. The Department of Labor and Industries told Channel 11 these fraudulent claims spiked during the pandemic when the federal unemployment assistance program began, but what they’ve been seeing over the last few weeks is the result of fraud-filing bots, and the national attention of their system upgrade.

“These fraud attempts are not a result of a data leak or breach on the part of L&I. Rather, this data was stolen through breaches that occurred outside of state government and then sold to fraudsters on the dark web,” explained Pennsylvania Labor and Industries Secretary Jennifer Berrier.

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Labor and Industries says it extended its partnership with a virtual identity verification vendor to protect identities and prevent fraudulent claims from being filed.

Because of the nature of the crime and it being online-based, police departments say it’s hard to track down suspects.

Investigating agencies say their best advice is to file a report if this happens to you.