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Near 200% surge of initial jobless claims believed to be caused by fraudulent activity, ODJFS says

Posted at 1:07 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-11 13:07:09-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said the “dramatic increase” in the number of initial traditional unemployment claims filed between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 was caused by what is believed to be fraudulent activity, the agency said Thursday.

Ohioans filed 140,444 initial jobless claims last week, a 194% increase from the prior week, ODJFS said.

To date, 44,000 claims have been flagged for suspicion of fraud and are under review. ODJFS said it’s investigating all claims that were flagged and believe there are more of the 140,444 claims that are expected to be fraudulent.

During the same period, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, Ohioans filed 300,638 continued jobless claims last week, which was 475,664 fewer than the peak last year. This includes both traditional unemployment claims and claims for extended benefits.

Over the last 47 weeks, ODJFS has distributed more than $8.3 billion in unemployment compensation payments to more than 925,000 Ohioans.

Since all claims will be reviewed, there will be delays in processing legitimate claims. The ODJFS said many Ohioans have become victims as their identities have been used to file fraudulent claims in both the traditional and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud is asked to call the toll free line ODJFS set up at 833-658-0394 to report identity theft.