If you’re spending too much time on the job committing unemployment fraud, are you really technically employed? (Only if you get a check for it.) That’s the question that this story from the Minden Press-Herald raises in today’s fraud of the day. It tells of eight suspects in a massive fraud ring in Sarepta, Louisiana who all “worked together” at the same business to commit unemployment fraud. Some were more successful than others, with amounts ranging from $33,000 down to $6,000. But the real hero in the story is the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which organized assistance from the Webster Parish Sherriff’s Office and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office to fight the fraud.
So far, the Commission’s work has led to a total of 60 arrests, totaling more than $600,000 in suspected fraud. And it’s not done yet. The Commission is poring over a variety of data from wage and tax filings to worker’s compensation claims – and even new hire listings – to suss out wrongdoing. By using what the story calls “sophisticated computer systems,” the data is then analyzed and fraud rings – like the one in Sarepta – are busted. (Finally a hero in all of these fraud stories, Hooray!) But it’s really only the beginning. Fifteen more suspected individuals are now on the loose, and the Commission has already entered their information into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database. Why can’t all states be so proactive?
Their work is an outstanding model of what it takes to stop fraud; using multiple data-points, advanced technology, and the cooperation of law enforcement and local employers to ensure that precious tax dollars go to those in need, rather than those in cahoots. As the Commission’s executive director Curt Elysink said: “People who commit this kind of fraud should know that we will discover their crime and we will pursue them.” I like his style.