MENTOR, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is reporting a steep increase in fraud within the pandemic unemployment assistance system.
The ink had barely dried on the contract for Greg Garbaloff’s new business when the state of Ohio shut down in 2020.
“We actually got the keys and they shut down Ohio about a week after we got the keys to the place,” Garbaloff said.
Fast-forward nearly a year later and G-licious Pizza in Mentor is in business serving Italian classics seven days a week.
However, Garbaloff said on top of navigating owning a new pizza joint during a pandemic, he’s now dealing with some "im-pastas."
“Shocked. A little bit angry,” Garbaloff said. “Confused at first.”
Garbaloff received notice that four fraudulent unemployment claims were filed to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services by people claiming they once worked at his business. He’s not familiar with their names and said those people were certainly never on his payroll.
“They just came in last week. I don’t know if the mail is behind but they came in in a mass pile, I guess,” Garbaloff said. “It’s overwhelming. It’s a lot. I don’t understand how this could come to where people could be making false claims saying they work here considering I’ve only hired friends and family.”
An ODJFS spokesperson told News 5 Garbaloff is not alone.
In fact, ODJFS received more than 4,700 reports from employers citing possible identity theft for more than 12,000 employees in the state of Ohio.
The spokesperson said Garbaloff will not be held responsible for the false claims about his business and that the letters he received are auto-generated by the state when an unemployment claim is filed.
“It’s more just the hassle and the time. I’m seven days a week here,” Garbaloff said. “I barely get time to get my regular paperwork done and now I have to deal with this.”
If you believe you may be a victim of fraud within the state’s PUA system, contact ODJFS immediately.