270,000 jobless claims over fraud concerns on hold

Many Ohioans are still waiting to receive benefits from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS). However, for some, that wait time just got a little longer.

On Friday, ODJFS announced that it has placed temporary fraud alerts on 270,000 unemployment claims after suspicious activity was detected.

Of the submitted claims, more than 95 percent, representing an estimated $200 million each week, were flagged as having "multiple fraud indicators." The indicators include deceased individuals, fraudulent IP address and bank routing numbers, and invalid email addresses.

“Unfortunately, there are criminals hoping to take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency at the expense of honest Ohioans who have earned their benefits,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “We regret that legitimate claimants have been caught up in this fraud scheme, but we are charged with maintaining program integrity so that we can preserve benefits for those who need them.”

After a claim is marked as fraud, the claim must undergo a second, more comprehensive identity verification process. Claims will be released once a claimant is able to verify their identify with the institution provided by ODJFS.

In order to continue processing claims, the Department has reassigned 185 regular unemployment adjudicators. They have also hired 60 new staff members, 20 are expected to start next week.

As the investigation into the fraudulent claims continues, 1,500 claims for payment have been released, ODJFS says.

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