If you are thinking about committing unemployment fraud in New Jersey, you may want to re-think your plans; the Garden State is taking the matter very seriously, as one Newark family found out in today’s fraud from NJToday.net.
A joint investigation between New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice and its Department of Labor & Workforce Development, coined “’Operation Labor Day,’” has led to the indictment of a family of five. Authorities say the family led “schemes to defraud the state of more than $2 million by filing false claims for unemployment benefits.” (Mom, Dad and all these wonderful kids just frauding the day away. Kind of reminds me of an animated film, doesn’t it?) According to the article, “these five individuals and 26 other defendants are charged with filing false unemployment insurance claims with the Department of Labor between August 2006 and November 2010.” The claims allegedly were “based upon fictitious assertions of previous employment” held by the defendants.
So, the employers listed in the claims were allegedly works of fiction. What about the identities? In one indictment – focused on a family member, his ex-girlfriend, and his father – authorities point to identity fraud based on identities allegedly stolen from nine Florida voters. (Identity theft in Florida. Hmmm…) One of the family members “allegedly obtained their personal information, including Social Security Numbers and dates of birth, while registering voters. The son allegedly paid the father a share of the benefits that were fraudulently obtained.” The two are charged with second degree identity theft stemming from these allegations.
In addition, a separate indictment charges other family members with stealing “unemployment benefits by filing false claims in the names of numerous claimants, including relatives and people who were deceased.”
And the indictments are just the beginning. The state has implemented multiple anti-fraud measures, to include: creating a new anti-fraud unit run by a former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent; replacing paper checks with debit cards; and continuing to deploy its “new software to detect and thwart fraud practices.” In addition, the state is maintaining its efforts to cross-check unemployment compensation recipients “against national and state ‘new hire’ data” to catch people collecting the benefit after they have started working again – an effort which has saved an estimated $100 million since March 2011 and has resulted in two “national innovation awards to New Jersey.”
So, at the end of the day, New Jersey has hit unemployment fraud hard by prosecuting alleged fraudsters; using public records databases to detect fraud; and creating an anti-fraud unit. The New Jersey taxpayer is definitely the winner here.