Illinois, FBI team up to tackle unemployment insurance benefits fraud

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says it has stopped about 350,000 fraudulent claims.

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Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul

Sun-Times file

The Illinois attorney general’s office said Friday it is teaming up with the FBI to tackle unemployment insurance benefits fraud.

State unemployment agencies across the United States are battling fraud due to, they say, recent large corporate data breaches, which have led to criminals filing for benefits using stolen identities.

“The Task Force on Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud will for the first time allow a broad coalition of federal, state and local law enforcement to collaborate and share resources and address widespread unemployment insurance benefits fraud,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement.

“I appreciate the FBI dedicating the needed resources and look forward to working with our partner agencies to investigate and hold accountable those who steal federal funding that is intended to help residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The partner agencies include the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the Illinois State Police, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Internal Revenue Service, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association.

“While the citizens of Illinois have worked to regain financial stability after last year’s tumultuous job market, criminals have sought to do them harm,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. said in a statement. “With today’s announcement of a joint unemployment task force, we commit to working with our local, state, and federal partners to ensure that those who would steal resources from our most vulnerable are brought to swift justice.”

The IDES recommends that anyone who has been notified of a fraudulent unemployment insurance claim issued in their name call 1-800-814-0513. The agency says it has stopped about 350,000 fraudulent claims.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft, go to www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov, or call the AG’s ID theft hotline at 1-866-999-5630.

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