ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland officials have uncovered a “massive criminal enterprise” involving over 47,500 fraudulent claims totaling over $501 million, leading to a broader investigation, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.

After detecting an “unusual increase” in out-of-state Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims over the Fourth of July weekend, the Maryland Department of Labor discovered more than 47,500 fraudulent claims using stolen identities and personal information acquired from previous national data breaches, Hogan, Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson and Derek Pickle, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Labor, announced at a news conference.

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The department immediately notified the U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland and the U.S DOL Office of the Inspector General and has been coordinating with them on the ongoing investigation.

They said the Maryland DOL has not experienced any breach of the state’s unemployment insurance system.

“This criminal enterprise, seeking to take advantage of a global pandemic to steal hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of dollars from taxpayers is despicable,” Gov. Hogan said.  “And we will continue to work with both the U.S. Attorney and the Department of Labor Office of the Inspector General on this ongoing investigation, both here in Maryland and in other states across the country to do whatever it takes to ensure that the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, detecting and stopping this fraud ensures that money remains available in these funds for the tens of millions of deserving people all across America who actually need the help.”

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

The state is reassuring people that claimants information has not been compromised in any way.

Gov. Hogan said some of the fraudulent claims may have slipped through, but the state caught most of them.

“The immediate actions taken saved taxpayers 501 million dollars, the most significant unemployment cost savings announced since the pandemic,” Robinson said.

Gov. Hogan said the scam uncovered in Maryland helped shed light on fraud activity in about a dozen other states.

The governor also said the state has now processed over $4.3 billion in federal unemployment insurance benefits payments to more than 489,000 Marylanders.

“Labor has processed 96.4% of all claims and their backlog is down to just 3.6%,” Hogan’s deputy communications director Kata Hall tweeted.

Last week, Marylanders faced a new hurdle trying to collect unemployment insurance.

Some people were given benefits, only to have them suddenly canceled due to fraud concerns, according to officials.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

Officials said the majority of these cases are for people who recently moved out of state but were told to file for unemployment in Maryland.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachel Menitoff

Comments (2)
  1. chrissfarmer says:

    Good work, glad they caught it before they paid anything out.

    I have to wonder if Trump’s buddies the Russians might be behind this massive cyber crime?

  2. Goth says:

    Great job! Now go investigate Marilyn Mosby and her 23 travel trips during 2018 and 2019 and her acceptance of over $30,000.00 air fair hotel rooms and per diem rates. Her missing physically out of the office for nearly 3 months!

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