ATLANTA — A metro woman has a warning for others after she was taken for tens of thousands of dollars by scammers posing to be from the Georgia Department of Labor.
Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln has learned that unemployment scams increased aggressively during the pandemic.
One Clayton County woman says someone opened a claim in her name, and now she’s out more than $17,000.
“This is unacceptable,” the woman said, asking to be identified as Kim Jones. “To know that someone is walking around with $17,828 on a debit card with my name on it, that doesn’t belong to them it’s insane.”
Jones said she alerted the Georgia Department of Labor about a fraudulent claim filed in her name.
“I was one of these scam victims people need to be aware of,” Jones said.
She says in 2020 she found herself unemployed, and she filed for unemployment. By the end of the year, she had already started working at a new job.
That’s why she was surprised when she got a notice approving her for unemployment benefits this year.
“This has to be a mistake because I didn’t put in anything actually to be approved for it,” Jones said.
She told Lincoln that the major red flag is the address listed on the document.
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“My resident address does not match my mailing address. That is 100 miles away,” Jones said.
Lincoln spoke with Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler to find out how this could happen.
“We’ve seen anything from very, very sophisticated fraudsters using somebody’s identity, to fraudsters creating fake companies,” Butler said. “We’re the victim, she’s the victim.”
Butler said their fraud department has been actively trying to keep up with increasing fraud cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic — and that’s on top of processing a record number of unemployment claims.
“We have tens of thousands of these cases that we’re currently investigating,” Butler said.
He told Lincoln that scammers are using fake websites, fake social media accounts and texting services to collect individuals’ personal information.
“We don’t do texting,” Butler said.
The U.S. Office of Inspector General for the Department of Labor reported that at least $36 billion from CARES Act funds was lost to fraudulent claims.
“It’s not necessarily domestic criminals. A lot of this is coming from overseas, from places like Asia, Eastern Europe,” Butler said.
“I don’t actually know how someone can get a hold of my Social Security,” Jones said.
The state says the most common way people get Social Security numbers is people who are posing as the state on social media, and they are able to get personal information.
The Department of Labor has a number of ways you can protect yourself against fraud on their website.
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