Michigan Unemployment nearly finished with pandemic fraud investigations

Fraud claims is largest issue for UIA one year after pandemic began
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency is almost done going through fraud claims.

Fraud is still one of the biggest issues facing the agency. The agency said it’s sorting through the final batch of claims to make sure only people eligible for unemployment are getting paid. It’s taking the agency more than a year to sort it all out, because more than four million claims have been filed since the pandemic started.

“I know somewhere along the line it’s going to come back and haunt me,” said Gregory Sparks, who lives in Orange, California.

In fact, he’s never lived or worked in Michigan.

“The only time I’ve ever been in Michigan is when I stopped at the airport on my way back from New York,” said Sparks.

Needless to say he was surprised when he got his first letter from Michigan’s unemployment office saying he was eligible for benefits for 50 weeks. Sparks knew it was fake and tried to stop it right away. He filed a report online and never heard back.

“You can’t talk to anyone, everything is through email or through the computer. There’s no one to talk to,” said Sparks.

Eventually, someone from UIA did call him and left a voicemail saying the investigation is going on and there’s nothing he can do. UIA acting director Liza Estlund Olson said once someone files a fraud report, they need to trust the report is being processed.

“It takes us a long time to get through all of those. That’s the problem, is people want us to be able to fix it and stop it,” said Estlund Olson.

Estlund Olson said they are following advice from the IRS.

“We needed to provide everybody we paid a claim on a 1099G and so we knew there would be a lot of people notified,” said Estlund Olson.

The 1099G form comes with instructions on how to file with the IRS. Estlund Olson said Michigan will send a corrected 1099G. This is necessary so people who had fake claims made in their name should be off the hook with the IRS.

If you file a fake unemployment claim ,you could be forced to re-pay up to one and a half times of the amount you received. You could also face criminal charges.

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