Florida woman’s identity used to steal unemployment benefits from Massachusetts

Swan and Dolphin hotel employee claims no ties to New England

ORLANDO, Fla. – Monica DaSilva is the first known Florida target of what may be an interstate plot to use a taxpayer’s identity to apply for unemployment benefits in another state.

The veteran Swan and Dolphin hotel staffer told News 6 she received a letter from the state of Massachusetts that suggested she was eligible for 39 weeks of state unemployment benefits as well as federal jobless benefits.

“I never applied for benefits in that state,” DaSilva said. “How in the world can someone open up an unemployment claim in my name in another state?”

DaSilva is convinced there is a connection between the date of the phantom application and the recent report by the Department of Economic Opportunity that 98 people had personal data breached when Social Security numbers were accidentally sent to a third party on May 21.

The notice from the state of Massachusetts suggests the application was completed just a few days after the breach.

The letter reads in part: ”Your claim for pandemic unemployment assistance was filed on May 23, 2020.”

“With all the problems with the DEO, they don’t have time to worry about who got hacked and who didn’t,” DaSilva said.

The DEO said it had advised all 98 people of the breach. DaSilva said she was never contacted and has no proof that is how her data was obtained to file for the Massachusetts unemployment benefits.

Ironically, DaSilva waited 10 weeks to get into the DEO system because records showed she had never worked in Florida.

She has lived in the Kissimmee area with her family for 30 years and has worked as a restaurant server with the Marriott-owned Swan and Dolphin since 2007.

Rep. Darren Soto (D) said the breach suggests there may be additional bogus interstate unemployment claims filed coast to coast.

“I have no doubt there are other victims, Soto said Monday. “Our job is to make sure the administration is aware of it and the Department of Justice is doing something about it. I appreciate Channel 6 covering this.”

If you have an unemployment issue or suspect your identity has been breached to apply for unemployment benefits, email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com

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