Payments to more than a quarter of a million non-traditional unemployment cases in Ohio are being halted and are under investigation. The state says most are part of a scam that’s resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent payments in other states.
Ohio Job and Family Services Director Kim Hall said up to 90% of the 276,000 cases under investigation could be scammers with fake or stolen names, social security numbers and other information, using it to file for pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) benefits for self-employed, independent contractors and part time workers.
“We have reason to believe that we have done a pretty good job of capturing the potential group of fraudsters. The problem is that there are legitimate claims in that mix," Hall said.
Hall said it’ll take time to sift through those cases. But she said it's important because tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent payments could be at stake.
The state's PUA system was set up by Deloitte in April, after Ohio and several other states had to build a system to process federal payments to workers who typically don't meet the requirements for traditional unemployment.
A few weeks later, there was what ODJFS has called a "leak" when the system allowed a few users to see everyone’s information for about an hour. Hall said this situation is not a hack or a leak, and is unrelated to that problem in May.
The state reported last week that it's issued more than $4.4 billion in PUA payments to more than 474,000 Ohioans. The program, which offered $600 weekly payments, ended on July 25, and so far there is no plan to extend it.