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Raleigh man waits months for unemployment fraud to be resolved so he can get benefits

Posted January 22, 2021 6:10 p.m. EST

— The federal government estimates that scammers have intercepted or redirected about $36 billion in unemployment payments since the start of the pandemic. In North Carolina, thousands of people are victims.

Paul Warren of Raleigh spent three months of battling red tape to get money meant for him. He says identity theft, instead, saw that money sent to a thief, keeping him from getting the unemployment benefits he needed.

When the pandemic hit, the music academy Warren owned for 18 years was forced to close.

“We probably lost 30 to 40 percent of our students immediately," he said.

For the first time in his life, Warren filed for unemployment. When he tried to file a claim with the state, he got an unpleasant surprise.

“I tried to create an account on their website," Warren said, "and it said, no – you already have an account with us.”

But it wasn’t his. He'd never filed an unemployment claim before.

It was a fraud – created by someone else using Warren’s name, social security number and address. To clear it up, Warren provided documentation required by the Division of Employment Security.

That was 13 weeks ago.

“At this point, nothing has happened other than they say they have received my fax," Warren said Friday.

Meanwhile, Warren is still out of work, and he is locked out of state unemployment benefits his family needs.

"It has been tight,” he said.

Contacted Friday afternoon, the Division of Employment Security told WRAL News that someone would reach out to Warren to help him.

In a statement, a spokeswoman also said the agency “must balance getting benefits out quickly with preventing fraud, and we are working to improve those processes.”

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