DENVER (KDVR) — The No. 1 complaint the FOX31 Problem Solvers receive is about unemployment benefits.
Emails reporting delayed, or no-show unemployment benefits have flooded the newsroom every day since the pandemic began. However, there are plenty of fraudulent unemployment claims as well.
State leaders tell the Problem Solvers the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has received 1.2 million unemployment claims it believes are fraudulent. Colorado has paid more than $22 million in benefits to scammers who are taking advantage of the unemployment system.
The state says its use of ID.ME, an online verification system, has saved $502 million in fraudulent payments since it was first used in April of this year.
“We’ve estimated the nationwide fraud rate to be about 30%,” said ID.ME General Manager of Public Sector Business Pete Eskew. “The amount paid out already is north of $2 billion dollars. We estimate we block about $1 billion a week across our 26 state partners including Colorado.”
Eskew said cyber criminals have tried to create masks that resemble the person they are trying to exploit, hoping to trick ID.ME’s selfie check. These criminals also send phishing emails or texts in hopes of getting people to turn over personal information.
“Hey, you’ve won prize money, or you’re up for a job, or it’s a romance scam, so they’ll unwittingly give over personal identifiable information that an attacker will that take and apply on their behalf,” said Eskew.
These criminals constantly change their scamming game plan. This is why the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has cast a wide net in efforts to catch scammers. This net has also caught a lot of innocent people and their real unemployment claims.
“These individuals work very hard at securing money through ill-gotten gains,” said Director of the Unemployment Division for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Phil Spesshardt.
Spesshardt said people should never click on email or text links they do not recognize.