Laquita Brown was convinced her Department of Economic Opportunity unemployment account was secure until February 11, the day she discovered her personal identification number and her bank account had been changed without her knowledge.
“When I looked, all of my information had been changed,” she said. “How can they act like me when they need my name, address and all that stuff?”
Brown, a home health aide worker, is one of hundreds of unemployed Florida residents victimized by identity thieves who purchase “packets” of stolen data from the dark web to then hijack unemployment benefits in Florida and across the country.
The Orlando Secret Service Cyber-Task Force told News 6 the imposters are tapping into what is easily a multi-billion dollar industry.
“These aren’t breaches that just happened a couple of months ago,” special agent-in-charge Caroline O’Brien-Buster said. “These (identities) were actually obtained over the last five to seven years.”
Brown’s case is unique because her account was unlocked, locked and unlocked again.
Three days after she spoke to News 6, on March 18, the DEO was able to unlock her account, yet a few days later someone changed the account information again.