NH Man Collects $12,000 in Unemployment Benefits after Getting New Job

(Laconia, NH)  The good news is that Michael Monti found a new job.  The bad news is that he kept filing for state unemployment benefits, and the state found out.

New Hampshire authorities prosecuted Monti for unemployment fraud after the Laconia man cashed in more than $12,000 in fraudulently collected benefits while employed.  Monti pleaded guilty in April to a felony charge of fraud by nondisclosure, and was sentenced to 12 months in the Carroll County House of Corrections.  All but two days of Monti’s sentence will be deferred if can complete a year of good behavior, and pay restitution of $12,655.

Monti’s fraud was discovered after officials with the New Hampshire Department of Employment Security compared the list of weekly unemployment recipients against the quarterly wage reports filed by state employers.  New Hampshire also cross-checks recipients against employees newly hired nationally each month.

Rich Lavers serves as Counsel for NH Employment Security.  He says the bad economy pushes people to make bad decisions in order to boost their income. “As fraud becomes more prevalent during times of recession, that’s when unemployment compensation volume increases,” Lavers explains.  “During the past three years, we’ve seen our incidents of unemployment fraud increase dramatically.”

In 2011, the New Hampshire Legislature passed two bills aimed at combating unemployment fraud.  HB 1579, which went into effect in August, allows the Department of Employment Security to garnish the wages of workers who have not paid back overpayments in unemployment compensation.  HB 1366, which took effect in October, tightens the work requirements for beneficiaries.  The new law requires that recipients document their work search every week, must be in-state, healthy, otherwise available for work every week and must be willing to accept temporary work.

“The current amount of fraud debt that we’re attempting to recover is $11.1 million. We’re being more sophisticated in how we’re trying to detect fraud up front,” Lavers adds.

Lavers says New Hampshire will also be able to collect from an individual’s income tax return, having gained approval from the federal government to garish those checks.  The Granite State is just the second state in New England, and 17th nationwide, to get permission to capture overpayments from tax refunds.

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