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Claims of fraudulent charges have kept college student from unemployment benefits for nearly 4 months

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Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-22 18:36:54-04

AKRON, Ohio — Benjamin Robinson told News 5 he’s dotted his I’s and crossed his T’s.

“I did everything that they had asked me to do,” Robinson said.

Robinson is a 22-year-old full-time student at Stark State College who previously worked at Staples before losing his job as a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was approved for pandemic unemployment assistance, or PUA, benefits, after being laid off.

“I was receiving all my payments perfectly fine until the Fourth of July,” Robinson said.

It was smooth sailing for Robinson until his ODJFS account was flagged for fraud. He was told he was not alone.

“They had issued out two frauds on my account and stuff, but it was like a whole Ohio-wide thing,” Robinson said. “So everybody had to go through it.”

News 5 made several attempts Thursday to obtain the latest unemployment statistics from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services but did not receive new information.

However, last week, tens of thousands of Ohioans were still struggling to receive benefits from the state. In fact, six percent of applicants had not been approved and were classified as complex claims.

Robinson re-submitted all necessary documentation to prove his identity and clear up the claims of fraudulent activity.

“They sent me a letter in the mail September 7 saying that I was re-eligible for it,” Robinson said. “I got redetermined for pandemic unemployment assistance.”

The problem? It’s not late October and Robinson has yet to receive a payment since July. He said call takers have even struggled to determine the issue since his reinstatement.

“And every time I call, they tell me that all my stuff is completed. My fact-finding is completed. Everything that they’ve asked me to do, they have, and I still haven't gotten a payment,” Robinson said. “They basically tell me it's a waiting game. All I have to do is wait. I don't get a time frame or nothing. They have not given me no time frame.”

During the pandemic, Robinson was forced to move to a new apartment while trying to keep up with his studies and said he’s been waiting long enough.

“I’m a college student and we have to get food and keep my bills paid and stuff,” Robinson said. “And I can't really do that right now.”

News 5 submitted Robinson’s claim information and backstory to ODJFS for assistance but did not hear back Thursday.