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Maine's initial unemployment claims jump, Department of Labor suspects fraud is to blame

During the nine weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic Idaho has received 136,901 initial unemployment claims, which is 2.3 times the total number of initial claims filed in 2019. (Source: Pixabay)
During the nine weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic Idaho has received 136,901 initial unemployment claims, which is 2.3 times the total number of initial claims filed in 2019. (Source: Pixabay)(KMVT)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 8:56 AM EDT
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The Maine Department of Labor suspects widespread fraud led to a steep increase in unemployment claims for the week ending May 23rd.

The Department recorded 16,500 initial claims for state unemployment assistance, and an additional 20,500 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last week. The number of weekly certifications, or continuing claims, for state unemployment stood at 137,700, and about 135,600 for PUA.

“We believe these higher numbers are evidence of the organized crime of unemployment impostor fraud, which many states are experiencing,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said. “The Department of Labor is committed to maintaining the integrity of Maine’s unemployment system and, alongside our partners, fighting fraud and defending innocent Maine people from scammers trying to exploit them.”

The Department has already identified and canceled roughly 2,200 unemployment claims it determined to be fraudulent. That number is expected to rise.

If you believe you are a victim of unemployment fraud, you're asked to notify the Department immediately using this website: maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/

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