ORLANDO, Fla. – Cyber thieves are using 3D masks in their latest attempt to access billions in state and federal unemployment benefits.
Blake Hall, CEO of ID.me, an identity verification company, told News 6 the masks are being used in roughly 2% of the new jobless applications across the country.
Hall, a decorated Army Ranger and field intelligence expert, said the imposters continue to change their tactics.
“It really is similar to what I saw in Iraq,” Hall said, “it is a network that is reiterating and adapting on the fly.”
So far, ID.me has been able to shut down hundreds of thousands of imposters who used various manufactured identity cards and stolen identities as well as the 3D masks in an attempt to beat the system.
“In our system, you actually have to have a phone that ties you to your identity in your records,” Hall said. “On that control alone we are stopping 20% of fraud.”
Hall said the thieves are using innovative techniques to crack state unemployment systems because the financial return is so lucrative.
“I think nationally the total amount of loss that the country is looking at is $200 billion,” Hall said.
ID.me has been used by the Department of Economic Opportunity to screen first-time applicants.
DEO Director Dane Eagle told News 6 the state’s current security system in conjunction with ID.me has been very effective in stopping roughly 1 million fraudulent claims in January alone.
“We want the next layer of control to make sure people are protected,” Eagle said. “You have people who go on the dark web and purchase stolen social security numbers to apply for credit cards and unemployment benefits.”
On Monday Gov. Ron DeSantis acknowledged the cyber-attacks targeting the state’s unemployment system calling them relentless, adding the current Connect system needs to be fixed.
“You know I can’t have the people of Florida paying billions of dollars to Nigerian princes,” DeSantis said. “We’re probably going to have to do something on the fiscal side to be able to make sure that the system is better going forward.”
No timetable has been set for implementation of the ID.me system but Hall said the state’s decision to integrate it is the right call.
“All of a sudden you have the largest unemployment rates since the great depression,” Hall said, “You also have the largest cyber-attacks in American history in terms of fraud and it’s not even close.”