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‘Massive’ unemployment fraud enterprise targeting expanded benefits busted in Maryland

Brittany De Lea

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced a massive unemployment insurance theft scheme, with claims totaling more than $501 million, had been discovered in the state.

About 47,500 individuals were involved in what Hogan described as a “massive, sophisticated” and “coordinated” scheme, whereby criminals used stolen identities from national data breaches to try to get unemployment assistance money.

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Under the CARES Act, eligible Americans who are out of work entirely or underemployed because of reasons related to coronavirus can receive an additional $600 a week until the end of July.

Overall, more than 47,500 fraudulent claims were said to have been made.

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“The state of Maryland exposing this illegal scheme and notifying the federal authorities has helped shed light on related fraudulent criminal activities in at least a dozen other states,” Hogan said during a press conference on Wednesday.

The state’s Department of Labor was tipped off to potential unlawful activity by an unusual increase in out-of-state federal pandemic unemployment assistance claims, Hogan said.

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As of June 20, the number of people receiving unemployment benefits was nearly 19.3 million.

Studies have shown that benefits for 68 percent of workers would exceed earnings.

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