VEC investigating fraud claims

Published 8:30 am Thursday, August 11, 2022

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The COVID-19 pandemic that struck in March of 2020 affected many individuals and their way of providing for their families. For some, those who were affected were able to receive unemployment benefits, and for others, unemployment benefits were claimed under false pretenses.

According to a release from The Virginia Employment Commission, they have begun to investigate and collect on thousands of confirmed fraudulent claims of employment benefits.

VEC officials said that since March 2020, the state had distributed $1.6 billion in known and potentially fraudulent claims.

According to the VEC, since January, they have successfully recovered roughly $40 million in wrongful payments with more than $60 million remaining.

VEC Commissioner Carrie Roth said that’s in connection to 17,401 cases of confirmed fraud.

Roth said the VEC is in the process of reviewing 99,376 unpaid and 180,261 paid potentially fraudulent claims.

According to a report from the VEC, from March 21, 2020, to March 2021, 1,525,925 claims were filed, compared to the 477,600 averages filed during the previous three economic recessions since 1990.

For eligible individuals who did not commit fraud but were overpaid through no fault of their own, the VEC has approved 23,310 overpayment waivers and waived over $80 million in payments.

The fraudulent claims have not only come from individuals who were working at the time of filing but also from those affected by identity theft.

Under Virginia law, the VEC can request and authorize the Attorney General to represent the VEC in the prosecution of criminal unemployment compensation fraud cases.

“When someone commits fraud against the state, they are stealing from all Virginians. When that fraud impacts our unemployment insurance program, it is especially hurting people in need. I am proud of Attorney General Miyares, who will take on this important role of fighting fraud and abuse on behalf of all Virginians,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin in a release.

Unemployment claims have reduced since the onset of the pandemic, with the latest data from VEC showing initial claims in Virginia for the week ending July 30 were 2,363.

According to the VEC For the most recent filing week, continued weeks claimed totaled 11,842, which was an increase of 928 claims from the previous week but was 63% lower than the 31,960 continued claims from the comparable week last year.

If you have received a billing statement from the VEC concerning an overpayment or you suspect fraud individuals can contact the VEC’s Benefit Payment Unit at (804) 786-8593.