© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lawmakers Call For Cyber Security Investigation Into Fraudulent Ohio Unemployment Claims

Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in downtown Columbus.
Ohio Public Radio
Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in downtown Columbus

Some of the victims whose identities were stolen for fraudulent unemployment claims said they are getting notices to pay back that money from the state agency that handles those payments. Some Democratic lawmakers said they want that agency to focus its energy on figuring out how the fraud happened instead.

Democratic Representatives Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) and Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) want more information on how the state's unemployment system was hacked to allow an estimated $2.1 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.

Sobecki said the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services needs to conduct a comprehensive cyber security investigation into how the fraud happened and what needs to be done to prevent it from occurring again.

“I think we should be taking a pause on continuing to hound Ohioans until we can get our system rectified and really find out, through the investigation, really what happened," she said.

Sobecki said she gets mixed messages on what exactly is being done in terms of investigating the fraud. The legislation would urge Ohio Gov. DeWine to activate the Ohio Cyber Reserve to investigate the multiple reports of hacking in the state’s unemployment compensation network.

In a written statement, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services said an audit by Republican Ohio Auditor Keith Faber showed the problem was unusually high demand, staffing shortages, an antiquated claims-processing system and four entirely new unemployment programs that had to be implemented immediately. However, the agency didn’t directly answer the calls for a cyber security investigation into the matter.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.