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Thursday, June 25, 2020
DLIR: Fraudsters Stole $15.8M Unemployment Benefits
By News Release @ 10:38 PM :: 1187 Views :: Hawaii Statistics, Labor, COVID-19

STATE RELEASES UPDATED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE INFORMATION

News Release from Hawaii DLIR, June 25, 2020

HONOLULU — The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced updated unemployment insurance claims information, including paying $1,727,662,401 since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic on March 1, 2020.

“Ninety percent (93%) of the valid unemployment insurance claims that have come in since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic have been processed and paid out by the DLIR. We still have 11,405 clean claims ready for payment of benefits by filing weekly claim certifications at https://huiclaims.hawaii.gov/#/,” said Deputy Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio.

  • No. of claims filed statewide:  238,438
  • No. of invalid claims filed statewide:  – 69,688
  • No. of valid claims awaiting claimant to verify:  – 11,405
  • No. of valid claims requiring DLIR action  157,345 
  • No. of claims paid:  145,684
  • No. of claims requiring DLIR action 6/23/20  11,661

The Department has worked to hone and refine unemployment insurance data to more strategically target those with pending claims as well as to evolve processing operations, including at the Hawaii Convention Center and Hawaii State Library.

“One of our current challenges in contacting employers and claimants is them not answering our phone calls,” noted Deputy Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio. “If you are an employer or worker involved in the unemployment insurance program please note that both (808) 762-5751 and (808)-762-5752 is the department trying to reach you to process claims.”

The Department’s operations continue to evolve including the following common issues:

  • Persons working full-time and therefore ineligible for benefits but filing for the loss of part-time work,
  • Incorrect deposit information supplied by claimants,
  • No weekly certifications filed by claimants,
  • Claim backdate issues,
  • Separation from work that requires investigation,
  • Claimants that have filed multiple claims, and
  • Failure to create a username and password in the claimant online portal.

As reported across the nation, fraudsters are targeting state unemployment insurance systems in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic through various schemes and identity theft. Bad actors are using stolen personal information from sources outside of the department, such as from massive external data breaches like the Equifax breach, to apply for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and attempt to route payments to their own bank accounts.

As of June 24, the department has blocked $76,644,808 in possible fraudulent PUA payments and detected a potential of $15,829,889 paid out in benefits. Investigations are ongoing and will confirm the exact total of erroneously paid benefits. Since June 4, 5,989 victims have reported Identity theft after receiving a letter about eligibility for PUA benefits.

“Unfortunately, bad actors including organized crime continue to attack the program designed to support our vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Deputy Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio. “We are working with the U.S. DOL Inspector General and the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General to find those perpetrating fraud and will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

If you received a letter regarding a claim for PUA and you did NOT apply for benefits, please follow the instructions on the letter to report potential identity theft at pua.hawaii.gov. The DLIR is not able to detect how or when your identity was stolen and cannot prevent it from being used elsewhere. If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.identitytheft.gov. You may also check to see if your email has been breached by visiting https://haveibeenpwned.com.

For more information about identity theft and PUA benefits please visit https://labor.hawaii.gov/pua-fraud-faqs/.

Like all States, Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations initially struggled to keep up with the unprecedented increase of unemployment insurance claims. Hawaii’s recent, typical average claims load of 20,000 spiked to 228,367 over the course of just a few weeks.

For more information about unemployment insurance and other labor issues please visit: https://labor.hawaii.gov/covid-19-labor-faqs/.

---30---

Hawaii Attorney General victimized by identity thieves who targeted unemployment program

HNN June 26, 2020: … Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors has revealed to Hawaii News Now that she is one of the nearly 6,000 people who have been victimized by scammers who targeted the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

“I’m included. I also received a letter, so I’m one of the individuals whose identity has been compromised,” Connors said,

Her office was already investigating the unemployment scam that has resulted in at least $15.8 million being paid out in fraudulent jobless benefits, along with another $76.6 million in payments that have been labeled as “potentially fraudulent.”

PUA is a federally-funded program distributed by the state Department of Labor for gig workers and independent contractors that have been affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The state sent letters to those who filed for PUA benefits, to verify their identities, after widespread theft was found across the country.

Chanson Fujioka-Levesque also learned her information was stolen after receiving a letter.

“I used to live with my dad in Wahiawa, and the letter came to his residence, which is my old residence,” said Fujioka-Levesque. “So I wasn’t even aware until he sent me the letter in California, where I live now.”…

read … Hawaii Attorney General victimized by identity thieves who targeted unemployment program

HNN: Identity thieves stole at least $15.8M in Hawaii jobless benefits ... and probably much more

KHON: PUA fraud in Hawaii up to $92 mil in claims, 6,000 victims so far

SA: $16M in Hawaii unemployment benefits possibly lost to fraud

May 23, 2020: Nigerian Princes Apply for Hawaii Unemployment

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