More Than 500,000 Possibly Fraudulent Unemployment Claims Have Been Filed in Maryland Since May 1

Unemployment is falling but fraudulent jobless claims are still skyrocketing in some places.


Maryland's Department of Labor has flagged more than 500,000 unemployment claims for being potentially fraudulent in just the past two months as scammers continue to take advantage of the boosted benefits provided since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In remarks to the media earlier this week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state has confirmed more than 1.3 million fraudulent unemployment claims since the beginning of the pandemic and is investigating 508,000 potentially fraudulent claims filed since the beginning of May. While Maryland's figures are eye-popping, it is likely not the only state being targeted by benefit thieves. California, Ohio, and others have been swamped by fake unemployment claims at various times during the pandemic—one particularly gutsy scammer filed a claim using Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly's name. In Washington state, one man was arrested after allegedly using more than 100 different identities to claim over $350,000 in unemployment benefits.

One estimate from a private firm that combats identity theft suggests that as much as $400 billion in unemployment payments made during the pandemic—nearly half of the national total—may have been stolen.

Thieves are probably targeting the unemployment system because that's where the money is.

"Criminals and scammers—including sophisticated, international crime rings—have been attracted by the enhanced weekly payments authorized by Congress," reports CNN. "Prior to the pandemic, unemployment benefits were typically not that generous and, therefore, not as much of a target."

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed in March of last year, the federal government provided boosted unemployment payments that are layered atop existing state-level benefits for workers who lose their jobs. The CARES Act initially provided $600 per week in boosted payments. Since December, the federal boost has been $300 per week, and those payments will continue until September 6—though some states are already cutting off those payments in order to limit fraud and encourage workers to seek jobs.

While every state has an office dedicated to combating unemployment fraud, they generally do a pretty poor job of it. Improper unemployment payments—not all of which are attributable to fraud—have been over 10 percent in 14 of the past 17 years, according to a recent federal Department of Labor report. The pandemic and federal unemployment payments turned a leaky system into a firehose of fraud.

All those fraudulent unemployment claims might be messing up key economic indicators about the strength of the post-COVID recovery too. Citing a report from investment bank JPMorgan Chase, Axios reported Friday that jobless claims are becoming an unreliable signal. Prior to the pandemic, about 45 percent of jobless claims ended up being eligible for unemployment benefits, but that figure has dropped to 36 percent recently.

But unemployment claims remain one of the most commonly referenced economic indicators. On Thursday, the Department of Labor said 411,000 Americans had filed a claim in the past week—far, far lower than at the peak of the pandemic, but still above pre-pandemic norms.

Again, the federally boosted unemployment benefits might be playing a role. Expanded unemployment benefits are slowing the recovery by disincentivizing some workers from seeking jobs, according to a recent study from the San Francisco Federal Reserve.

But at least the scammers are keeping busy.

NEXT: 'The Laws Need To Change': Britney Spears Testifies Against Conservatorship

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maryland’s Department of Labor has flagged more than 500,000 unemployment claims for being potentially fraudulent

    Mike Hunt…Mike Hunt…Mike Hunt…Dick Izinya…Mike Hunt…Mike Hunt…IP Freeley…Mike Hunt…Mike Hunt…

    1. At least Dick Fitzwell and Mike Hawk were legit.

      1. That’s Richard Fitzwell, to you.

        1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings FR are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
          on this page…..VISIT HERE

      2. I am making 70 to 60 dollar par hour at home on laptop ,, This is make happy But now i’m Working four hour Dailly and make forty dollar Easily .. This is enough for me to glad my circle of relatives..How ?? I’m making this so u can do it Easily
        HERE…… Visit Here

  2. Let’s make a pile of free money available and open a hotline to claim it. Let’s see who calls.

    1. Is it naivety? Do the dems really think people are not economic creatures that will ALWAYS take the easiest path between two points? A lot of dems see it as “boosting salaries”. You see a lot of comments along the lines of “if they paid a ‘living wage’ then people would get off the dole and work”

  3. While every state has an office dedicated to combating unemployment fraud, they generally do a pretty poor job of it.

    Wait ’til you see how our elections are run.

    1. Not a single fraudulent ballot anywhere, ever.

      1. That’s heresy comrade.

  4. You should have to show up in person to make an unemployment claim. Voting should be the same way. Only democrats and commies like this fraudulent bullshit.

    1. Once upon a time, in a country long long ago, you not only had to show up in person, you had to swear under oath you were actively seeking employment. And, oh by the way, the same place you had to go to do that was the place that would give you a list of open local jobs you were qualified for, and would check up to be sure you applied.

      Sadly, that country no longer exists.

      1. An interesting question for people who actually gave a fuck about liberty would be why we don’t privatize unemployment insurance and let workers purchase it if they so choose leaving the government out of the equation entirely.

        1. Also leaving out their former employers from the equation, other then maybe just confirming the person is no longer employed. Former employers have a stake in seeing that you don’t get unemployment.

        2. Damn, that is a great question. I wonder if anyone knows a liberty minded magazine that might ask that in an article.

        3. Back in the day, unemployment insurance was usually called “family”.

      2. Here in WA I’ve heard the offices are closed AND the phone lines go unanswered. People are waiting 6+ months for any kind of approval. They had to call in the NATIONAL GUARD to help! Clearly they are tremendously overwhelmed.

        To top it all off, we lost AT LEAST $600 million to Nigerian scammers.

        1. I thought it was $600 billion.

          1. And that’s just the money Joe Biden sent them.

    2. buckleup that would mean the state union employees would have to get off their asses and do some of their jobs.

  5. “In Washington state, one man was arrested after allegedly using more than 100 different identities to claim over $350,000 in unemployment benefits.”

    Maybe he was just REALLY, REALLY, unemployed?

    1. A guy that works that hard on a grift is gainfully employed.

  6. There is no unemployment fraud, so we should cease all attempts to look for it.

    Oh wait, that only applies to elections right?

    1. Obviously there is no Unemployment fraud and anyone that thinks otherwise is a Trump sycophant.

  7. So? If you are not used to this by now you are not attention.

  8. Coming next. A government program to help fund those who have to repay the false claim.

  9. Leftists want to give the government more power and more money. They are, obviously, not very smart people.

  10. they could get tens of millions of bogus disability claims if they wanted to

  11. Was able to defect from that place. This doesn’t surprise at all. Also wouldn’t be surprised if they just stopped looking and instead raise income taxes to pay the tab.

  12. “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said the state has confirmed more than 1.3 million fraudulent unemployment claims”

    Total Population of Maryland 6.0 million. Carrying a 19-year Democratic Trifecta Gov+Senate+House all Democrat.

    Seems 22% of citizens in Democratic states are complete Crooks…
    Only 3% more to go to having 1-in-4 being a downright criminal.

    And anyone has to wonder if the DNC is “buying” votes with *all* our money and resources. They’re the leaders of this criminal mob.

    1. Larry Hogan’s a republican

      1. Surrounded by a Democratic State.

  13. Gee, who could have foreseen this occurring?

  14. interesting that we can be expected to believe in what can only be described as widespread unemployment claims fraud but we know there was no election ballot fraud in any significant amounts.
    Was there no incentive for ballot fraud as there is for unemployment fraud? Is the ballot process so much more secure? [cough, cough, you cant even verify that a person is who they say they are when they vote… cause voter id equals racist!]

  15. 499,000 of them were probably already paid out and no one knows where the money went. Feature, not bug of all 3rd world shitholes.

  16. But the election was 100% secure. No one would cheat, even if they made it much easier to do so.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.