$7.4 million in unemployment fraud recouped in seven days - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

$7.4 million in unemployment fraud recouped in seven days

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Millions of dollars are back in the bank for the Department of Employment Security since revamping it's efforts to go after those who were getting away. 

"Fraud has increased over the last few years," said Director of Customer Operations, Dustin Adams.

Adams says too often, Mississippians are receiving unemployment benefits while at the same time receiving a paycheck from an employer. Of the 157,000 unemployment claims in 2011, Adams says about 10% have some type of fraud associated.  

"You do have some people that are just flat out criminals but you also do have some that, you know, they're doing it to get by," said Adams.

To cut out the fraud and recoup some of the nearly $60 million in outstanding balances, Mississippi is now one of five states able to reach in to someone's federal tax return. That's in addition to state returns and garnishments already being done.  

"We've really been doing about a 40% recoupment rate on these fraud cases and just from the treasury offset program alone we've recouped about 12% just from these first seven days," said Adams.

That's $7.4 million in one week.  Adams expects the department will be able to get back more money than ever which could mean a recoupment rate as high as 90%. The department checks records of unemployment recipients against current payroll records submitted by employers. When a name appears on both lists, cases are investigated.

Adams says most cases of fraud are when people intentionally don't report new employment to the agency after they begin receiving the benefits.  

"We're here as a program to help people through a time when they're unemployed through no fault of their own but you shouldn't try to take advantage of that situation," said Adams.

Some of the cases are handed over to the attorney general's office for potential prosecution while others go straight to the court system for an order of repayment.

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