Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that state and federal officials have identified more than 120,000 cases of unemployment-related fraud and identity theft since March 2020.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) found that about 107,000 of the cases targeted the federal Pandemic Unemployment System program. The remainder of the cases targeted state unemployment programs.
“This is a brand new program that the federal government rushed to develop, and then left each state to create its own separate system. As a result, there were massive holes for illegal fraudsters to steal federal dollars from taxpayers,” said Pritzker.
Accounts of fraud from Illinois residents whose unemployment benefits were stolen are widespread. Hundreds have also reportedly received unemployment benefits despite having not applied. Both forms of the crime are thought to be part of a larger nationwide identity theft scam.
“An individual who has not filed an unemployment claim but has received a debit card… has likely been a target of this fraud,” said Pritzker.
Pritzker announced that the state would be cooperating with federal and local authorities in investigating the fraud cases.