Unemployment fraud victim asked to pay up until WBTV intervenes

Updated: Jun. 24, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A WBTV Investigation into unemployment fraud at the North Carolina Division of Employment Security raises questions about whether victims are paying the price and if benefits are being paid to scammers even after the cases are flagged.

Jennifer Greene reached out to WBTV after numerous attempts to get NCDES to fix her situation. In June 2020, she received a letter from the agency about an unemployment claim she never filed.

She said she started calling the hotline to get the issue resolved.

“I said that’s not my account, this is a fraudulent claim. They said, ‘OK, you’ll hear from us in 5 to 7 business days’ and then I didn’t hear anything,” Greene said.

Greene provided WBTV with records showing that she was employed throughout the pandemic and that NCDES was aware of that as well.

But in August, Greene said she received another letter so she called NCDES again.

“They assured me that they were going to lock down the account and that they would, they would get back to me in 5 to 7 days and again I heard nothing,” Greene said.

One year after after Greene received that first letter, she received another one from NCDES that was a “Determination of Fraud Overpayment.” It said she owed $3,600. That’s when Greene reached out to WBTV.

“I want my name to be in good standing also as a taxpayer those benefits went out and could have been stopped,” Greene said.

WBTV reached out to NCDES to find out why Greene’s case hadn’t been handled.

In an email a spokesperson wrote that DES flags all fraud claims and prevents benefit payments from being made and that victims were not liable for the payments.

“However, on rare occasions, the benefits system has automatically generated and sent notices of overpayment in error…DES apologizes for the confusion,” the spokesperson wrote.

A reporter for WBTV asked several follow-up questions about whether benefits were paid out in this specific case, how common this is and how the letters are automatically generated. Those questions were not answered.

“If you suspect someone has used your personal information to apply for unemployment benefits, you should report it immediately to DES using our Fraud Reporting Form,” the spokesperson wrote.

Within hours of WBTV reaching out to NCDES, Greene said she received a call from a representative promising the issue had been fixed.

NCDES also recommended filing a local police report, reaching out to the Federal Trade Commission

“The fact that it takes shining a light on it through the media or an attorney, I think, is not the way things should work, but I’m so grateful to you for getting me to this point,” Greene said.

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