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Unemployment fraud claims soar in Edmonds

A well-organized Nigerian fraud ring is behind the claims, according to the Secret Service


Last updated 5/21/2020 at 8:10am

Unemployment fraud is rampant in Washington state, and it’s illustrated in stark detail in the most recent police report of crimes in Edmonds for the week of May 12-18.

The large majority of recorded crimes were for fraudulent unemployment claims, and they came from all corners of the city.

According to Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure, he was informed that the Secret Service has identified a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring targeting the state.

You may know someone who has fallen victim. It wouldn’t be surprising – McClure said even personnel in the Police Department have been targeted.

“This is not just happening here,” he said. “It’s happening in multiple law enforcement agencies all over the Puget Sound and the state. (But) this is really an Employment Security Department issue.

“We're just dealing with the ramifications from the fraud attacks. We’re just being responsive to people who have been victimized and trying to help address the issue after they've been victimized.”

McClure said officers are providing information to fraud victims. The department has also provided an online reporting tool (https://bit.ly/2ToHnbr) for those who have been victimized.

“The hackers and the fraudsters are doing whatever they can to open unemployment claims, usually with people who don't have jobs, or don't have unemployment, so they're able to create an account with that person's information and then start getting the benefits.”

Victims generally discover the fraud after getting a letter from the Employment Security Department, or through their employer.

“Protect your personal financial information,” Edmonds Acting Police Chief Jim Lawless said in a video posted to Facebook May 16. “Monitor your bank and credit card accounts, and please report any suspicious activities you might witness.

“Particularly those surrounding mailboxes, as mail thief has really increased of late.”

If you fall victim, report it to the Edmonds Police.

The Employment Security Department has more information on unemployment benefits fraud at https://bit.ly/36jBJMY.


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