5 On Your Side

Agency tells 5 On Your Side thousands of unemployment claims are suspicious

Posted August 11, 2020 3:07 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2020 6:21 p.m. EDT

Many North Carolinians have experienced the frustration of long waits for help from North Carolina’s Division of Employment Security.

Even more outrageous are the scammers who have collected unemployment that they did not earn.

5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte investigated after hearing from a victim, Samantha Wilson.

As the office manager for RHC Construction and Realty, Wilson can barely keep up with demand.

"Everyday," she’s working, she said. "60 hours a week."

So when her boss "asked me did I file for unemployment, I thought he was joking," Wilson said.

The Division of Employment Security sent her supervisor an unemployment claim, showing Wilson’s name, Social Security number and workplace.

She was frustrated and angry.

"Because I’m going to have to pay taxes on someone else getting my money," she said.

Wilson reported the fraud to DES.

"I spoke with an agent who after about a hour and 45 minutes, I convinced her that it was a fraudulent claim and she said she would mark it as fraudulent," Wilson said.

Weeks later, she learned the claim was still paid, and tried to contact DES again.

"But whoever has hijacked my identity, has hijacked the website, so I can’t get in," she said. "The bigger picture here is how many claims are being fraudulently filed and how much money North Carolina is losing."

Laliberte asked the Division of Employment Security about that.

A spokeswoman told 5 On Your Side, that 870 cases are flagged right now as suspected fraud. Thousands more cases are on hold because they appear suspicious.

5 On Your Side wanted to speak with someone at DES about the fraud and Wilson’s struggle to get it stopped.

Spokeswoman Kerry McComber told us no one was available.

McComber emailed saying DES is making changes.

The agency launched a new phone line dedicated to fraud cases, added staff with specialized training to work the cases, and is making it easier to report fraud online.

After 5 On Your Side reached out, Wilson heard from DES.

The agency stopped the fraudulent payments that were sent to someone with a Florida address.

Wilson is relieved for that, but as she continues to work for her paycheck, she wonders about others working the system.

"I want someone to do something to stop this money from leaving the state and going to someone who doesn’t deserve it. "

The headache isn’t over though.

She was told to file reports with local police, the Federal Trade Commission and to place a fraud alert on her credit report in case there’s other activity.

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