Massachusetts officials still have not said how much money the state or its residents may have lost as part of a national scam, but the scope of the incident is coming into clearer view.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said Tuesday it has received nearly 300 calls from people claiming to have been targeted. That comes after a couple of weeks after Gov. Charlie Baker said the state Department of Unemployment Assistance reviewed 150,000 jobless claims for possible signs of fraud and that all but 5,000 claims passed a third-party vendor review.
“We are working with our state and federal partners to determine the sources of these fraudulent claims and take appropriate action,” Healey said. “In the meantime, if you encounter one of these scams, stay alert, stay calm and report this fraud.”
Several lawmakers told MassLive they received calls from constituents asking about UI and, more specifically, saying they believed they were targeted by the scam. The nationwide scam appears to be targeting state unemployment systems as they issue record-numbers of unemployment checks during the coronavirus pandemic. Massachusetts’ jobless claims surpassed 1 million in May, between the DUA figures and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
Healey’s office asked residents to report the fraud if they believe they were hit by the scam, notifying credit card companies, banks and other financial institutions; filing a police report; changing passwords for email addresses, banking information and other online accounts; requesting a credit report and considering a credit freeze or placing a fraud alert on the credit file.
Massachusetts unemployment officials declined to give more information after the DUA announced that it would implement additional verification steps, including how much money it believes the state lost, citing the ongoing federal investigation into the scam.
The DUA did ask people who believe their identity may have been stolen to file a false unemployment claim to contact the department at mass.gov/unemployment-fraud or by calling 877-626-6800.
“We are working rapidly to respond to this scheme and urge individuals who may have had a false unemployment claim filed in their name to contact the department,” Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said in a statement.
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