Kansas DOL Releases Unemployment Fraud Attempts

Topeka, KS (STL.News) The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) issued data on the number of fraud attempts, the estimated amount of fraud payments the agency has paid, as well as law enforcement referrals.

Following an in-depth analysis and IRS Form 1099-G reconciliation, KDOL has determined that from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, about $140 million in fraudulent claim payments were made from the Kansas regular unemployment insurance program.  Additionally, more than $150 million in fraudulent payments are attributed to federal benefits programs, for a total of $290 million.

USDOL-OIG estimates that unemployment fraud has cost taxpayers roughly $36 billion nationwide since the start of the pandemic.  The total amount of potential fraud is roughly eleven percent of total unemployment insurance payouts since the start of the pandemic.  Other states to have publicly shared their fraud numbers include:

“Fraud is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.  It’s stealing from taxpayers at the worst possible time and all attempts at fraud will be referred in the strongest possible manner to law enforcement,” Governor Kelly said.  “All 50 states have been overrun with coordinated, sophisticated criminal fraud attempts, and that’s why I wrote a letter with fellow Governors, calling on Congress to provide funding to secure and modernize our systems.”

As part of a robust anti-fraud effort the agency has referred over 50,300 cases of alleged fraud to federal law enforcement partners for investigation and possible criminal prosecution, and is actively working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General (USDOL-OIG) and the U.S. Attorney’s office to hold fraudsters to account.

“Congress opened the door for this historic level of fraud when they created multiple new pandemic-related unemployment programs, and at the same time prohibited states from asking basic verification questions,” Department of Labor Acting Secretary Shultz said.  “It was not until the Continued Assistance Act was signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020 that states were able to take more aggressive action to verify claimant information in the federal programs.”

In early February, KDOL implemented a new fraud mitigation software solution that has drastically reduced the number of fraudulent claims that have been filed. Since its launch, this system has stopped more than 4.8 million bot attacks and fraudulent login attempts.  As a result, KDOL’s fraud team has been able to focus their efforts on more sophisticated cases and investigations.

Since the beginning of 2020, KDOL stopped approximately 500,000 fraudulent claims that were the result of identity theft and other unemployment related fraud that could have cost more than $22 billion.  These stopped claims are the result of many hours of effort from the KDOL fraud team who have worked tirelessly to combat sophisticated criminal rings, which have targeted the state’s unemployment system.  The number also includes identity theft cases that have been reported by individuals and businesses.

Since March 15, 2020, KDOL has paid out over 4 million weekly claims totaling over $2.7 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs.