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Ohio Paid $330 Million In Fraudulent Jobless Benefits In Last Three Months Of 2020

This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y.
Mike Groll
Associated Press

Fraud in the state’s unemployment system cost Ohio more than $330 million in just the last three months of last year. And there could still be fraud among more than a quarter of a million claims flagged this summer.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services director Kim Henderson said $2.3 million was paid to 2,200 fraudulent claims in October and November.

But Henderson said that "in December, we identified 56,000 overpayments in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. This equates to a total of $330 million, including the supplemental $600 FPUC (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) payments.”

Henderson said around 100,000 claims in the non-traditional federally funded pandemic assistance program were deemed fraudulent.

As many as 119,000 claims among more than a quarter-million identified as possibly fraudulent last summer are still under review.

Henderson also said thousands of people have reported they're victims of identity theft, which has been happening across the country.

“All states will need to identify fraud resulting specifically from identity theft. To date, ODJFS has received more than 70,000 reports of identity theft from individuals who have issued or who have used the secure report identity theft portal on our website," Henderson said.

Those people will be getting federal tax forms to report unemployment benefits as income, even if they never received it.

"Last year, we issued about 200,000 of these forms," Henderson said. "Last month, we issued 1.7 million 1099-G forms to individuals whose whose unemployment to whom unemployment benefits were paid out in 2020."

Henderson said those who are fraud victims will have to have corrected 1099-G forms issued through a multi-step investigative process.

Attorney General Dave Yost has asked Ohio's members of Congress to take action to halt the collection of fines and penalties for fraud victims. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he agrees with Yost, and that there's $2 billion in the Republicans' COVID relief proposal for states targeted at dealing with this issue at the administrative level.