Editor’s Note: This is Part I of Andy Sheehan’s investigation into multi-billion dollar unemployment fraud in the state of Pennsylvania.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The pandemic has hit Carrie Trisch hard. Her husband, John, is out of work, recovering from open heart surgery, and in October she lost her job at a law firm. To add insult to injury, the state denied her claim.
“When I applied for unemployment, it was ticked back,” says Trisch. “Someone registered my name…Someone stole my identity.”
Trisch is just one of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians hit by unemployment ID theft. While the couple struggled to make ends meet in their small Rankin home, cybercriminals became wealthy, draining billions of dollars from the state’s unemployment system.
And as federal and state authorities are prosecuting about a dozen burglars in the country, Haywood Talcove, CEO of government business at security firm LexisNexis, said most of the money is now in hands of international cybercriminals in places like Nigeria, China, Russia and Romania.
“That money – 70 per cent – goes abroad to transnational criminal groups,” he said. “They will never be able to arrest the people who did this because 70% of them don’t live in this country. They transferred that money to anonymous wallets, then converted to bitcoin, and it is now being used for nefarious purposes.”
Talcove says that using his company’s tracking data on international cyber-thefts and the federal government’s estimate of 18% fraud, Pennsylvania defrauded fraudsters of $10 billion, most of them are abroad. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would not disclose the amount owed.
WATCH: Andy Sheehan’s Full Interview
“Can you imagine if a bank or an e-retailer lost the money that the state of Pennsylvania has?” Talcove asked. “They will not be in business. I can tell you this as a CEO: I won’t have a job and probably won’t have a company. ”
Trisch says her money is running out.
“We have a bit of savings but how long do you have to live before you run out of money because you can’t get anywhere with unemployment?” she asked.
In a belated attempt to stop the bleeding, the state is currently having a hard time trying to verify the new claims. Now, Pennsylvanians like Trisch are trying to talk to someone at Labor and Industry to verify the claim, but they’re on permanent hold.
“Five months on is four months, and when I spoke to them on Monday, there were still 73,000 people in front of me who needed a call back,” she said.
Talcove said the money stolen from the state is gone and the only way to stop the fraud is to stop it. He said it could happen using the same identity screening technology used by banks and e-retailers like Amazon. But for now, Talcove said, the state is letting its people pay the price.
“Their citizens are being treated worse than the transnational criminals who are stealing from their state,” he said.
Click here for Part II of Andy Sheehan’s report.
https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2022/01/24/part-i-billions-of-dollars-of-unemployment-aid-stolen-from-state-likely-wont-be-recovered/ Billions of dollars in unemployment aid stolen from the state likely won’t be recovered – CBS Pittsburgh