CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) said at least $12 million out of the nearly $2 billion distributed in unemployment claims has been stolen by fraudsters.
That number is expected to go up as claims continued to be investigated.
Although some Rhode Islanders are still getting their identities stolen since this problem was first discovered in May, Director of the DLT Scott Jensen said the number of these fraudulent claims has gone down.
“Our fraud mechanisms are much more robust then they were but again it continues to be a cat and mouse game with these fraudsters all over the country,” Jensen said.
Wanda Brito of Providence previously told 12 News her unemployment insurance suddenly stopped because her identity was stolen, making paying her bills nearly impossible.
“They sent me a rent receipt this month saying you have to pay the rent and I was like, I can’t pay the rent. I don’t have income,” Brito said in July.
Brito said she had a hard time getting in touch with someone at the DLT for answers. That’s a problem Jensen said the DLT is trying to address.
“We are working on putting more people who are authorized to make decisions in the call center and driving down the number of multiple calls that people need to make to get a hold of us,” Jensen said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Rhode Island State Police are investigating who is responsible for the fraudulent claims.
Because the investigation is ongoing, Jensen said he can’t confirm exactly how Rhode Islanders were impacted by this scheme.
As for the $300 weekly boost in unemployment benefits through FEMA, the DLT said their goal is to begin distributing that money this Sunday. But Jensen said that could be delayed until sometime next week.