ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland’s highest-ranking officials are among the latest targets in another unemployment insurance fraud scheme uncovered by the state.

Governor Larry Hogan, Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford, Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson, and several other members of the governor’s cabinet were targets of the scheme.

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“We have been more aggressive than any state in going after the rampant fraud that is targeting unemployment insurance systems nationwide,” said Governor Hogan. “The vast majority of claims we have flagged have been confirmed as fraudulent, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. This is another example of how this kind of fraud can happen to anyone, and we need to remain vigilant.”

The fraudulent claims filed used stolen identities and when detected they were immediately blocked.

“Truly we are at war with these kinds of malicious hackers — and unless we get more prepared and proactive,” said Spencer Pollock, a cybersecurity attorney at Niles, Barton And Wilmer LLP. “We’re going to see this continue.”

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With a record number of Marylanders out of work due to covid-19, Pollack said hackers have taken advantage of the vulnerable.

“It almost was a perfect storm where you get the influx of claims and you already have a lot of personal information out there,” he said.

An investigation is underway with state and federal partners and the state’s Department of Labor is running cross checking filings weekly of anyone claiming the state of Maryland as its last employer.

“This latest fraud scheme only reinforces the need to maintain the heightened security measures in place to protect Marylanders and the integrity of the state’s program,” said Secretary Robinson. “We are working closely with our law enforcement partners to ensure that all of these criminals are brought to justice.”

This follows another fraud scheme that was uncovered in the summer. On July 15, Hogan announced 47,500 fraudulent claims were filed in Maryland totaling over $501 million.

More than 85% of claims that have been flagged were confirmed as fraudulent. The DOL continues to investigate potential fraudulent in-state and out-of-state claims.

Here’s some other data the state shared:

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  • Of the 115,356 out-of-state claims that have been identified as being potentially fraudulent, 105,738 (91.7%) have either not uploaded the verification documentation requested or their documentation has been reviewed and denied.
  • Of the 98,769 in-state claims that have been identified as potentially fraudulent, 76,388 (77.3%) have either not uploaded the verification documentation requested or their documentation has been reviewed and denied.
  • There are currently 1,823 (0.8%) in-state and out-of-state potentially fraudulent claims pending manual review and verification by a team of specialists.
  • From March 9 to November 28, the state’s Division of Unemployment Insurance paid a total of $8,224,675,615 in state and federal unemployment insurance benefits to claimants.

If you believe that your information has been used to fraudulently file an unemployment insurance claim, please contact The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance by emailing ui.fraud@maryland.gov. To receive updates and additional information about unemployment insurance programs in Maryland, visit MDunemployment.com.