VEC investigating more than 3,000 cases of unemployment fraud

Nearly 40 letters sent to Chesterfield woman's home, none addressed to her
Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announces it is investigating more than 3,000 cases of unemployment benefit fraud across the Commonwealth.

It is likely that criminals have scooped up millions of dollars, however, a VEC spokeswoman said investigators have been able to recover at least $50 million so far.

All of this comes as a Chesterfield County woman claims people are using her home address to try and scam the state into handing out unemployment benefits.

In a matter of days, the woman received nearly 40 letters from the VEC. Not one of them had her name on it, but all had her address.

“One, two, three, four, five...” she counted. “This is insanity; I could paper a bathroom with this.”

A stack of 39 envelopes from the VEC was never requested by this Chesterfield woman who wishes to remain anonymous. All were mailed to her address between July 21 and 23.

There are 18 different names, none belonging to this woman who’s never filed unemployment before.

"How do all these people live at my address?" she asked.

What’s inside is not specifically known, but a glimpse through some of the envelopes shows pin numbers which can be associated with unemployment insurance benefits.

“Fraud is rampant in our country and this is our taxpayer’s money,” the woman said. “The people who really need it aren’t getting it.”

This woman isn’t sure why her address was used, but she has her theories.

“I have no idea, unless off of Zillow, because it was right after we put our house up for sale,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the VEC said she has not heard of that happening before, but urged the woman to file a fraud report with them and contact police, which the woman did.

However, the woman doesn't understand why the VEC didn't notice a problem.

“In the course of two days, two days, how is there not a trigger at the VEC that says how can all these people, in two days, file at this address?” she said.

Currently, the VEC is investigating more than 3,000 cases of unemployment benefit fraud dating back to mid-March. While it’s unknown how much money has been sent out across the state, a spokeswoman said they have stopped more than $50 million from getting into the wrong hands.

“Just be accountable, like the rest of us are because there are people out there starving while the criminals are getting paid,” the woman said.

Since Monday, no more letters from the VEC have arrived at the woman’s address.

The VEC urges anyone who suspects they may be a victim of fraud to report it by phone at 1-800-782-4001 or file a report online here.

The agency is working on getting more staffing to handling the influx of fraud calls.

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