Unemployment fraud claims continue to skyrocket during COVID-19 pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Several people have now reached out to News 4 after receiving unemployment funds on a debit card after never actually filing for unemployment. 

“At first, I thought it was just junk and then when I seen y’alls story, I got a little worried,” Dave Brown told News 4. 

Brown is talking about an unemployment debit card from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission that he received in the mail. 

“I just cut that up thinking it was junk mail and I shredded the document that came with it,” he said. 

That’s because he said he’s never filed for unemployment. So, he contacted OESC. 

“I talked to a couple of people and they gave me one phone number that just gave me an email address,” Brown said. 

He emailed the address and he said someone got back to him saying they were looking into it. 

Brown isn’t alone. News 4 heard from several others Monday who also received a debit card out of the blue when they shouldn’t have. 

“This is very large scale and has multiple layers to it,” Brook Arbeitman with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations said. 

OSBI has now stepped in, creating an Unemployment Fraud Task Force. 

“We’ve dedicated a lot of resources to it from agents who are going to be dedicated to investigating the claims, to analysts who are trying to put all the dots together,” she said. 

Along with cases like Brown’s, a lot of that is focused on letters that have been piling up at businesses, filled with names of people trying to collect unemployment even though they never worked for that company. 

“We are going to track down and put a stop to any of these crimes that originating in Oklahoma, but we’re aware from our federal partners that some of these may be generated out of state,” Arbeitman said. “We’re just not going to tolerate Oklahomans being taken advantage of during this time.”

If you need to report unemployment fraud, email it to fraud@oesc.state.ok.us.

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