Have you received a letter for an accepted unemployment claim you haven’t filed? Have you received letters from other states accepting your unemployment claim? Or maybe, you noticed a large deposit in your account you did not expect? If you can say yes to any of these questions, you might be involved in an elaborate scam taking advantage of unemployment benefit programs.

The Scam

This scam ring takes information from one person and uses several alternate emails to set up unemployment claims. These claims can also be filed in different states, allowing scammers to apply anywhere from $9,000 to $20,000 in claims for one individual. While this might seem like a complicated process, some states only require minimal information to file a claim.

 

The next part of this scheme is having the funds sent to a different individual’s account. In some cases, the deposit account holder is not aware of funds being deposited, but most of the time, they are aware that they will be expecting funds in some form. The victims who are expecting funds are being conned using a romance scam or those who are looking for job opportunities.

 

The last step in this con is when the scammer finally retrieves the funds from the deposited account. This is done by having the account holder pull funds from the account in the form of pre-paid cards and sending the con-artist the card information. The money is then pulled off the pre-paid card making the funds untraceable.

Staying Safe

Just like any other scam, here are a few quick tips to keeping your information safe:

  • Do not click on any links you do not recognize.
  • Do not open any emails you are not expecting.
  • Check the sender’s information. The majority of the time, a scammer will disguise itself as a reputable brand. The email name is normally a giveaway that it is not the company it is claiming to be.
  • Grammar and spelling are also a giveaway. If the email seems to be poorly written, it is most likely a scammer.
  • If you see a large deposit into your account you did not expect, alert your financial institution. Do not remove funds; this could cause your account to overdraw or involve you as a participant in this illegal scam.
  • Lastly, if you are involved in an online romance or job search, do not give your personal information online. Even simple information such as your full name, date of birth, or SSN can be used to steal your identity.
Reporting Fraud

Deposit Fraud – If you have found yourself a victim of this scheme, make sure you report it to the correct establishments. If the money has been placed unknowingly into your account, or if you feel an expected deposit might be fraud, contact your financial institution where the funds have been placed. They will be able to walk you through the next steps of investigating the funds.

 

Unemployment Fraud – You will need to contact the state program or even multiple programs to notify them that this claim has been falsely made. Contact information should be available on the letter notification you have received. Make sure to double-check all information online to verify the letter you have received is legitimate as well.

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