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Michigan paid billions in fake unemployment claims

Unemployment Insurance Agency has fraud protections back in place
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:16 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) is taking steps to make sure criminals don’t steal more money from the system.

A third-party audit found the agency paid out billions more than it should have.

Since the pandemic started, $2.8 billion were paid to people who stole someone’s identity, and another $5.7 billion to people who misrepresented themselves.

More: Michigan likely paid $8.5B in fraudulent jobless claims

Most of that happened when the UIA scaled back on fraud prevention to get people paid faster in 2020.

“We know that amount of money draws in bad actors. And draws in people that are committed to saying here’s how we can get the money,” said Julia Dale, Unemployment Insurance Agency Director.

Dale took over the unemployment agency in October after the payments were made. She said fraud protections are back in place.

“We monitor those types of things and those are the things that might send a red flag,” she said.

Rep. Steven Johnson, (R) Wayland, said his concern is fraud protections were scaled back when it was probably needed most.

“Was there someone in charge there, was anyone in charge? Do we need to put legislation in there requiring some level of fraud detection?” Rep. Johnson told reporters.

Most of the fraud in Michigan was for federal programs, and not the state.

The state still has more than $1 billion in its unemployment trust.

The UIA is working with the federal government to see if the state will be responsible for the federal money that was fraudulently paid. The agency said if it does, it shouldn’t impact how businesses pay into the program. There’s legislation before the House that would guarantee that.

More: Secret Service: Nearly $100B stolen in pandemic relief funds

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