Foreign Criminals Target State Unemployment Programs
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
The trillions of dollars the federal government has spent on coronavirus relief in the last month have, naturally, attracted the attention of criminals across the globe.
And that includes some of the Internet’s oldest fraudsters, Nigerian criminals, who’ve decided the best way to get their hands on some of that free-flowing federal money is filing false unemployment claims using stolen identities.
As security researcher and author Brian Krebs notes, the U.S. Secret Service is alerting its field offices about the threat…which, bad as it already is, has a particularly nasty twist:
…the ring has been filing unemployment claims in different states using Social Security numbers and other personally identifiable information (PII) belonging to identity theft victims, and that “a substantial amount of the fraudulent benefits submitted have used PII from first responders, government personnel and school employees.”
“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possesses a substantial PII database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far,” the Secret Service warned. “The primary state targeted so far is Washington, although there is also evidence of attacks in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida.”
Worse still is that states apparently don’t have the resources to flag and block such fraudulent claims. So many bogus claims were filed in Washington state, the system was temporarily shut down.
In Oklahoma, the number of fraudulent claims has slowed, but not halted, payments.
Krebs reports the Secret Service believes the “scam is likely to affect all states that don’t take additional steps to weed out fraudulent filings.”
Image Credit: By Jericho [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons