Spike in Oklahoma unemployment fraud cases as state nears end of federal extended benefits

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma is just weeks away from the end of the extended federal employment benefits.  

On June 26, Oklahomans receiving unemployment will no longer get the extra $300 a week from federal benefits.  

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Director, Shelley Zumwalt, says fraudsters are looking to cash in on the last few weeks of benefits.  

“We anticipated seeing a lot more activity because criminals are trying to get as much money as they can before benefits are cut off,” said Zumwalt.  

She says the same week Governor Kevin Stitt announced to program would end, 7,000 more initial claims were filed than the week before.  

“We’re seeing them come out of the U.S, we’re seeing them come out of Oklahoma, we’re seeing them coming all over the U.S., primarily Florida,” said Zumwalt.

April Bailey says she was already receiving benefits when someone got ahold of her social security number and filed a fraudulent unemployment claim.  

“Someone has filed under my social security number…I haven’t gotten any money since then and they have just been giving me the go around,” said Bailey.

Zumwalt says because the agency is getting better at identifying fraudulent claims before they are paid out, claimants might experience more instances of their accounts becoming flagged and frozen. 

“There are certain activities that look like fraudulent activities to our team, and it might be that your claim gets flagged as fraud for many different reasons when it’s actually a legitimate claim,” said Zumwalt.  

She says if you believe your account is flagged incorrectly, you should call OESC or visit a regional office and bring two forms of I.D.  

If you believe someone has filed a fraudulent claim in your name, you should file a report through the agency’s website.

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