‘I’m scared to death:’ Cyberthief steals grandmother’s unemployment benefits

Funds routed to mystery bank accounts

When Candace Brooks discovered her unemployment account had been changed, she went into a panic.

When Candace Brooks discovered her unemployment account had been changed, she went into a panic.

“The beginning of February somebody went in and changed my PIN, changed my banking information and rerouted my money,” she said.

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News 6 has confirmed more than $1,000 was sent to a Chase bank account, additional funds were routed to Bancorp accounts.

“I’m scared to death,” she said. “They have my social security number, my (Department of Economic Opportunity) claimant number and my address and phone number.”

Brooks said she filed a fraud report with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

Sources with the Secret Service and the sheriff’s office confirm the agencies are developing leads to determine who is behind the theft and how many accounts have been impacted.

The DEO has stepped up security protocol but Chris Hadnagy, founder of Social-Engineer LLC, said if the thieves have accurate information, it will be difficult to stop them from altering accounts.

“How am I supposed to verify all information matches,” Hadnagy said.

Hadnagy, aka the Human Hacker, said this scheme is built in stolen identities usually purchased on the dark web.

The end game is what he calls a major pay day.

“If he got $2,000 in her name, but he’s doing that 100 times, he just made $20K in a day,” he said.

The DEO has just developed a special kit for victims of identity and unemployment fraud, available here.

About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.