AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Labor is continuing to work with its state and federal law enforcement partners to investigate criminal unemployment imposter fraud, according to a news release.
During the week ending June 27, the Maine Department of Labor canceled about 720 initial claims and 3,000 weekly certifications suspected of being fraudulent.
“Between week ending May 30 through week ending June 27, the Department has cancelled roughly 24,600 initial claims and 44,000 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “We continue to refine the fraud filters so that we prevent fraudulent claims while at the same time provide the least disruption for Maine people who need these funds.”
To date, the Department has received roughly 26,100 reports of unemployment imposter fraud, some of which are duplicates if both the employee and employer reported the fraud.
The Department has also reinstated almost 11,000 claims to legitimate claimants that had been flagged for potential fraud.
The extent of potential unemployment imposter fraud remains under investigation.
Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person’s Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen from outside the unemployment system and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits.
Maine is one of many U.S. states, according to the release, working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
Based on the experience of other states, the amount lost to fraud may be in the tens of millions, per the release.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, Maine Department of Labor, Maine Attorney General’s Office, Maine IT, Maine State Police, Maine State Treasurer, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, U.S. Secret Service, Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI are working together to investigate and stop the fraudulent unemployment claims. In Maine, the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General are spearheading the federal investigative effort.
The Department and its partners are vigorously pursuing cases of unemployment imposter fraud. The investigation is ongoing, and new incidences of potential fraud are identified every day.
Those whose claims were cancelled for suspected fraud or whose claim has been flagged for potential fraud (showing a paid date of 9/9/9999), must verify their identity in order to reinstate the claim.
To do so, claimants should go online to the ReEmployME homepage at reemployme.maine.gov and follow the below directions:
Select “Upload Documents for Identity Verification” located just above the login link and provide the following: two forms of identification (scans or photos are okay), one of which must be a government issued photo ID.
Government issued photo ID’s are: driver’s license, passport, military ID, and federal or state employee ID.
Non-photo documentation could include: a recent utility bill that shows your name and residential address, Social Security card or birth certificate.
To expedite verifications, law enforcement officers from the Maine Department of Corrections are working with the department on a temporary basis to review identity documentation. Documentation will be worked through in the order it is submitted to the Department. As claims are reviewed and determined to be valid, payments are released.
The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employee’s personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft.