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Unemployment Fraud

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According to officials unemployment fraud is on the rise. The reason they say is more people are laid off of work and are holding down part-time jobs which leads to increase in fraudulent claims. There are rules claimers must be aware of, otherwise, they will find themselves facing misdemeanor employment security law violations, and depending on the amount of money one could be facing felony charges.

A very important change has recently occurred that could lead to a person being charged of a crime many years later as in the article that is printed below. Some points to keep in mind when filing for unemployment that could later hunt you: You must report all earned income while receiving benefits, you must report when you are self-employed, make sure you are using your correct social security number, notify the agency immediately upon obtaining employment. According to this article, the government can review your case at any time and if information show possible fraud you can be charged whether a month later, or twenty years later.  The government file a criminal complaint on this woman after eight years for just a little over $1600.
           
Woman charged 8 years after unemployment fraud

A woman who improperly claimed unemployment benefits almost eight years ago now faces multiple charges of misdemeanor employment security law violation, according to the N.C. Employment Security Commission. A spokesman for the agency says unemployment fraud is on the rise as more people receive jobless benefits.

Deidre D. Pearson, 33, of Clay Road in Shelby, faces 10 charges for fraud, according to court documents. According to a criminal summons, in the spring of 2005, Pearson reported a weekly income of $0 to the N.C. Employment Security Commission when she was employed by Southern Building Maintenance. She received unemployment benefits during that time, though the total amount of benefits she received was not listed in the criminal summons. Pearson claimed she earned no income from May 15 to July 23, 2005, according to the criminal summons, when in fact the total amount she earned during that time equaled $1,668.

Larry Parker, a spokesman for the NC Employment Security Commission, said he doesn’t know why it took so long for the summons to be served. “It shouldn’t take that long,” Parker said. “That would be an unusual case.” He said over the last several years there has been an increase in fraud due to the sheer volume of people receiving benefits and more people being on unemployment longer. He said the annual dollar amount of fraud committed is difficult to determine. He said there are different periods when the fraud is committed, when it is actually discovered and when it is recovered.

“It’s tough to give a dollar amount,” Parker said. “Recovery (of funds) could take a couple years.” “Court a last resort,” Parker said typically,” taking legal action is a last resort.” “Court for us is sometimes a last option,” Parker said. “A lot of times they set up payment with us or pay it off.” He said if it does go to court, it’s usually because the amount of fraud is an “egregious amount” or the person refuses to pay. “We’ll let folks know that it’s a fraudulent overpayment,” Parker said.
In most fraud cases, he said the person receiving the benefit goes back to work and continues to draw unemployment.

New methods to curb fraud

New measures taken by the ESC are cutting down on these actions, Parker said.
He said the commission has a national database of new hires and also conducts cross-matching to catch more people who fail to report new employment.
Parker said about a year and a half ago, a benefit integrity unit was created to investigate fraudulent activity. He said he doesn’t know how many fraud investigators the commission has currently. How often fraud is committed in a year varies and is “tough to say” Parker said.

Tougher punishment

The ESC recently cracked down on the punishment for committing the fraud. Beginning Dec. 1, 2012, if the amount of benefits improperly obtained are more than $400, the claimant and anyone assisting the claimant can be charged with a felony and spend from three to eight months in prison as well as face a fine.

If the amount of benefits claimed is $400 or less, the claimant could be harged with a misdemeanor. “Some of the legislation that took place with becoming a felony removes the limitation we have to recover fraud,” Parker said. “We can now go after fraud essentially forever.” In the past, there was a 10-year time limit. The full amount of improperly obtained benefits must be paid back.

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