Unemployment compensation sounds like such a simple concept: if you are unemployed and meet your state’s eligibility requirements for benefits, you receive unemployment compensation. What’s the key requirement in all states? Oh yeah, that you’re unemployed. Yet, so many individuals find themselves in the crosshairs of prosecutors accused of unemployment fraud. And, that’s the case in today’s “Fraud of the Day” from the Boston Herald in which five people are accused of cheating the government out of a total of more than $117,000 in unemployment assistance.
The article reports that each of the five – who live in Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire – allegedly committed unemployment fraud in 2010 by collecting unemployment assistance while holding steady jobs. One of the accused allegedly made $35,105 through receiving unemployment benefits – slightly more than authorities say he was making at his full-time job: $34,477. (It is a bit startling to think that someone could be accused of defrauding the government of more in unemployment compensation than he allegedly made at his job.) In one case, the accused allegedly received $42,796 in fraudulent benefits while earning $92,491 annually at his job.
The five were arraigned on July 10, 2012 by the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General in two different courts. Each is being charged with multiple counts of unemployment fraud, and several are being charged with larceny. The defendant charged with the most counts is a man from Hudson, New Hampshire charged with 89 counts of unemployment fraud with three counts of larceny. (If true, that is a lot of fraud.)
The article notes that the accused could not be reached for comment on the article or the charges. And, that’s important. Each of the defendants is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. Even so, the article does make me wonder what processes and technology are in place in states across the U.S. to find unemployment fraud – especially across jurisdictional boundaries. So, here’s the question for the day: can your state detect unemployment fraud across state lines?