PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island has received nearly 427,000 suspected fraudulent unemployment claims during the coronavirus pandemic, of which more than 56,000 have been confirmed to be phony, the state Department of Labor and Training said Friday.
The state has also paid out $37.6 million in confirmed fraudulent claims, and another $209.6 million has been paid out to suspected sham claims from March 9, 2020 to March 1, the agency said in a statement. About $3.5 million in fraudulent payments have been recovered.
Rhode Island has experienced a problem that state unemployment insurance programs across the country have been dealing with during the pandemic. In response, the agency has been working with law enforcement, cybersecurity experts, the federal government and others to refine anti-fraud measures while ensuring that legitimate claims are processed, acting director Matthew Weldon said.
“We have taken great care to ensure that our anti-fraud efforts pose minimal hindrance to legitimate claimants who are reliant on unemployment benefits to provide for themselves and their families during this economic crisis,” he said.
The Department of Labor and Training has stopped an estimated $3.2 billion in fraudulent unemployment benefits from being paid out. Hundreds of thousands of likely fraudulent claims remain under investigation.
Nationwide, the federal Labor Department inspector general’s office estimates that more than $63 billion has been paid out improperly through fraud or errors, The Associated Press reported Monday.