FOR PRESS INQUIRIES, CONTACT: Amy Susan (573) 751-1518
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 28, 2011
Fraud Investigations Recover $6.4M in Unemployment Benefits
7.2% increase in Criminal Referrals in 2010
Jefferson City, Mo- Investigations conducted by the Missouri Labor Department have resulted in $6.4 million in money recovered in 2010 from individuals who have been found fraudulently receiving Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Of this total, the Department collected $1.1 million from those who have been charged with stealing by deceit after their case was referred to the local prosecuting attorney for criminal conviction.
“During a time when unemployed Missourians need it most, our Department will protect the integrity of the unemployment program by aggressively pursuing those violating the law and receiving benefits that do not belong to them. Employers provide this safety net for those who lose their job due to no fault of their own, not for those looking for extra cash while working another job,” says Department Director Larry Rebman.
The fraudulent activity occurs when individuals provide false information on weekly applications for UI benefits which caused benefits to be paid improperly. If charged, this type of fraud generally constitutes a class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment or, if the sentence is suspended, can result in placement on probation for up to five years and an order to make restitution.
Routine audits conducted last year also revealed another $620,000 was fraudulently collected by 145 people who plead guilty to stealing by deceit in 2010. The individual restitution amounts range from $881.37 - $11,696.66. In 2010, the Department referred 283 cases to the local prosecuting attorneys for criminal prosecution, a 7.2% increase in referrals from 2009.
“If you go back to work and you keep filing unemployment, we will find out and notify the local prosecuting attorney. This is serious and it needs to stop,” says Rebman.
When the Division of Employment Security (DES) determines a claimant has been overpaid or fraudulently received benefits, benefit charges leveled against the claimant's employer(s) are credited back. For reimbursable employers, the employer receives a credit which can be applied to its next billing or refunded upon request.
The Department is looking at ways to increase its ability to further reduce fraud, including denying future benefits to those who commit fraud and giving DES more tools to use in collecting money from those who commit fraud. Currently, Missouri law allows those found guilty of fraud to collect UI benefits despite having outstanding penalties. Since 2005, penalties for fraud overpayments have totaled more than $24,000,000.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Labor or how to file an Unemployment Insurance claim, visit www.labor.mo.gov.
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