FOX 11 Investigates 440 cases of unemployment fraud

KAUKAUNA – Hundreds of cases of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims have been flagged by Wisconsin officials. In these cases the person named in the claim is not the one filing for unemployment benefits.

Donna Dercks of Kaukauna was surprised when she received a letter from the state’s Department of Workforce Development regarding her unemployment claim. Dercks works full-time at Larry’s Piggly Wiggly in Kaukauna.

“I didn’t file,” said a shocked Dercks. “You know it showed how much I was going to make in a week.”

Department of Workforce Development officials confirm to FOX 11 Investigates that they became aware of the fraudulent claims being filed when workers like Dercks began calling their office over the past several weeks.

Just how many fraud cases have been targeted at this point?

DWD Spokesman John Dipko tells FOX 11, “We have identified approximately 440 claims in Wisconsin that may be part of fraudulent claim activities evident in several states.”

Federal authorities are leading the investigation, including the U.S. Department of Labor. Wisconsin officials are unable to disclose too many details so as not to hamper the investigation.

The fraudulent claims were filed online. And unemployment benefits if dispersed would be sent to a designated direct deposit account.

“It’s a form of identity theft. It’s not that they’re opening up a direct charge card under your name but they’re going to take money from there,” said Dercks.

Workforce Development officials say they send out notification letters to the names filing claims. Their employers are also notified. This is done, like in Dercks case, as a way to prevent fraud.

“Many improper claims have been flagged during the standard one-week wait before the first required unemployment insurance payment and were never paid,” said Dipko in a statement.

State officials utilize several methods in place to detect fraudulent claims, but tips from employers and the public play a big role.

To report fraud cases, you can do so online at <https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/contac.htm>, or by phone contact the UI Fraud Hotline at 1-800-909-9472.

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