OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has launched an Unemployment Fraud Task Force to investigate fraudulent unemployment claims in the state and identify those responsible.
OSBI Director Ricky Adams has pledged a major commitment of OSBI resources toward combating false unemployment claims, according to an OSBI news release.
“We are hearing from citizens, businesses, municipalities and state agencies that fraudulent unemployment claims are rampant across the state,” Adams said. “Not only are Oklahomans having to deal with their identity being stolen, but those that are truly unemployed and have applied for benefits are having their claims slowed down by thousands of fraudulent claims clogging up the system.”
The Unemployment Fraud Task Force (UFTF) is comprised of state and federal officials.
UFTF members also include the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Oklahoma Information Fusion Center (OIFC), Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), Secretary of Oklahoma’s Digital Transformation and Administration, U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said it is unacceptable for fraudsters to use the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of Oklahomans who are struggling.
“Director Adams is to be commended for his leadership in forming this joint task force that will combine the law enforcement power of the state and federal government and crackdown on this criminal behavior,” Hunter said. “I look forward to working together with our partners to help Oklahomans. I also continue to be proud of the team in my office who has taken on this enormous task.”
OSBI asks that any local law enforcement agency, sheriff’s office or other state entity that receives an unemployment fraud complaint email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission will vet the information before passing along relevant investigative leads to the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center. The information will then be turned over to an OSBI intelligence analyst and an agent for investigation, according to the news release.
The goal of the process is to identify the criminal network behind the false claims and ultimately refer cases for prosecution.
“It is terrible that these criminals are preying on Oklahoman’s during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no place for it and we appreciate the willingness of our state and federal partners to assist us in our effort to put an end to this criminal activity. It is truly a collaborative effort,” Adams said.
Individuals or businesses that receive bogus unemployment claims are advised to complete a new form on the attorney general’s website, which can be found at oag.ok.gov.
Hunter’s office started helping direct complaints to law enforcement agencies last week, and have received around 2,500 unemployment fraud complaints so far.