The goal of unemployment insurance is to provide temporary financial assistance to displaced workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own. The benefit gives unemployed Americans the chance to look for a good job, and not accept the first offer that comes along. Today’s Fraud of the Day was reported in The Kokomo Tribune on January 10, 2013 and examines an Indiana man who continued to collect unemployment insurance after he went back to work at a new full-time job following a layoff. (In this case, double dipping doesn’t refer to ice cream.)
Officials at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) state that a 34-year-old man from the town of Peru, purposely defrauded the unemployment insurance system of more than $23,000 in benefits. The man’s employer blew the whistle by filing a form with the DWD disputing claims for unemployment insurance benefits that were charged to the company. Through an investigation of DWD records and company information, the state determined that the man was indeed working full-time while receiving extra money for unemployment insurance benefits. (Wonder if that will affect his next promotion?)
The fraudster pleaded guilty to felony charges and was sentenced to three years of probation. (He got off easy.) He’ll serve prison time if he violates the conditions of his plea agreement. The man was ordered to pay back the benefits he fraudulently collected, plus penalties and interest.
With a lingering high jobless rate and an uncertain economic future, it is likely that unemployment fraud will continue. Unfortunately, this type of fraud is a crime that affects everyone’s bottom line – taxpayers and businesses alike. A few bad swindlers can spoil a good benefit for those who legitimately need it.