Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Sept. 26 actions to crack down on unemployment insurance fraud after a New York State Department of Labor, DOL, investigation found that insurance fraud accounted for more than $11 million in benefits payments in August. These benefits were paid almost exclusively to
those working while also collecting unemployment insurance payments during the pandemic. Following the Department of Labor's investigation, Hochul announced that the state would seek repayment for fraudulent benefits payments and refer nonpayment to state law enforcement. Based on this investigation,
the Department of Labor Office of Special Investigations is on pace to uncover $110 million in fraudulently attained benefits this year.
"At the height of the pandemic, when our state experienced an unprecedented unemployment crisis, these fraudulent unemployment insurance claims took resources away from New Yorkers who needed them most," Hochul said. "My administration is taking action to step up our investigations of unemployment insurance fraud, hold those who take advantage of the system accountable, and protect this crucial benefit for New Yorkers in need."
The fraudulent payments were identified by DOL using an upgraded fraud detection system. The system allows investigators to more efficiently review cases and streamlines records requests to employers in order to confirm dates of employment. If the system detects a fraudulent payment, the claimant has an
opportunity to explain the discrepancy. Following the review, if the claimant is found to have worked while collecting benefits, DOL will take steps to ensure
that ill-gotten payments are returned. This includes establishing repayment plans, garnishing state and federal tax returns and referring matters of nonpayment to state and/or federal law enforcement, as needed.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "When someone files a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim, they are stealing from New Yorkers. The Department remains vigilant and will continue to ensure that these criminals are held accountable. We thank businesses and employers for working with us to uncover fraud."
This new system is part of DOL's modernization efforts which include a 4-year plan to enhance customer experience and reduce fraud. In June, Hochul announced that DOL is halfway through this plan.