69-year-old diabetic turns to News 6 after imposter files for benefits in her name

Unemployed senior citizen survived on pasta and peanut butter sandwiches

Marjorie Hollman, of Palm Beach County, spent four months of her life living on pasta and peanut butter sandwiches after an imposter used her identity to apply for state unemployment benefits with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“I’m 69 years old, I’m a diabetic, I have Crohn’s disease,” she said. “I couldn’t even look at the account because I was locked out!”

Hollman’s state unemployment account was locked after someone filed for benefits with her personal information a few months before she lost her job as an internet auto sales manager in Del Ray Beach.

“Come to find out somebody using my social (and) my name, applied for unemployment benefits in February,” she said. “I’ve drained my savings, maxed out the credit cards to zero.”

Hollman lost her job in April and despite confirming with the DEO that her identity had been compromised she was unable to gain access to thousands of dollars in state and federal benefits she was entitled to.

Although she does not reside in the WKMG viewing area she said a relative read about the Make Ends Meet success on ClickOrlando.com and she contacted News 6 for help.

“My sister-in-law somehow came across you through the internet,” Hollman recalled. “She said, ‘You have to contact Make Ends Meet they help everybody.’”

Make Ends Meet presented her case to the DEO fraud division and within 72 hours the senior citizen’s account was unlocked, and she had access to her state and federal benefits totaling more than $8,000.

“I’m not even in your viewing area and you’re helping me,” she said. “I’m doing everything I can to hold back the tears, how wonderful you guys are, it’s just amazing.”

The DEO has been investigating roughly 250,000 fraudulent cases spanning over the last 18 months.

News 6 continues to work with the DEO fraud division and Orlando Secret Service to alert consumers about potential identity theft.

If you believe you are a victim of Reemployment Assistance identity theft or you’re an employer and have an employee who is a victim it is important that you report it immediately by calling 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759). In order for the Department to properly handle Reemployment Assistance identity theft situations, it is essential that both you and the employer complete and return any forms sent to you about claims filed.

If you have an unemployment issue email makeendsmeet@wkmg.com or text the words Make Ends Meet to 407-676-7428.

There are other steps you may want to take such as reporting your information to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), by completing a complaint form here. The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19).

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.