The Department of Justice’s National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force has launched a one-stop connection to the Federal Trade Commission, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor to provide victims with quick access to resources needed to file an unemployment fraud report in all 50 states.
The NUIFTF project involved key federal agencies, including the office of inspector general, FBI and the Secret Service.
The 1-page alert had been under development since last fall, when unemployment imposters started using stolen identities to file for unemployment benefits in Florida and across the country.
[READ FORM: Click here to view the 1-page alert]
Orlando Special Agent in Charge Caroline O’Brien-Buster told News 6 the pandemic has triggered an “unemployment fraud crisis” in America projected to be more than $200 billion.
“I believe it’s going to be more once this next pot of money drops,” O’Brien-Buster said, referring to the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden Thursday.
News 6 has been investigating and reporting cases of unemployment fraud since last April, when the pandemic triggered a rush on state unemployment benefits.
Dieules Octave, an eight-year veteran employee with Disney World received state unemployment benefits until August 2020.
Now back at work at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, Octave has filed a Department of Economic Opportunity fraud report five times after he received a 1099-G showing he owed taxes on $19,500 in unemployment benefits.
His bank records, reviewed by News 6, confirm he only received a little over $11,000 in unemployment benefits.
“August 3rd, that’s the last time I claimed benefits,” Octave told News 6. “I’m telling you, once I found out my identity had been stolen, I felt like someone was watching me.”
He discovered his DEO account had been changed after he received the 1099-G.
He reviewed his DEO account and found someone had opened bank accounts to accept deposits to Bancorp and Compass. Octave said he has always been with Wells Fargo and he had never opened the new accounts.
O’brien-Buster said the new link from the Department of Labor to the DEO will assure direct access to fraud investigators.
“It’s simple. One page and a great resource,” she said.
When you go to the alert page, you will see three separate links. The Department of Labor link can be used to to file a report with the DEO. Just click on the state of Florida.
There are also helpful links with the IRS and the Federal Trade Commission.
If you have an unemployment issue email News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org