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Many fight for unemployment benefits still stuck in the system

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 6:53 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - We’re hearing from more and more people having issues getting their unemployment benefits. It turns out that’s partly because of massive fraud found in the system so far and it could get worse.

State Auditor Keith Faber says they’re already identified $330 million of fraud from the pandemic unemployment system. When a full audit is done it could be more.

When Mark Haupricht was laid off from his union assignment at the Cleveland Cliffs project recently, he filed his unemployment claim as he had in the past when similar layoffs have happened.

“There’s always a little bit of a hiccup but nothing like what I’ve been going through this time,” said Haupricht.

With all the unemployment fraud, he was asked to verify his identity. Now he’s stuck in the system, even after calling nearly 200 times!

“I immediately faxed and emails everything that the needed and that’s the last I.... that was it. Haven’t received a dime,” said Haupricht.

“They did layer in all kinds of new security in the last couple of weeks and months as they’re starting to get a handle on the fraud,” said Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber.

13abc spoke with Faber Friday who’s been trying to help with new fraud safeguards and help the unemployment system run smoother. With more than $300 million dollars in identified fraud, Faber wants to make sure it’s not happening again.

“We know that any fraud in a system this bad. The level of fraud that we saw and are seeing is extreme. This is people in.... certainly this is organized criminal syndicates in places like Russia, Nigeria and places like China and North Korea,” said Faber.

Which leaves people right here in Toledo paying the price.

“Money that we paid into unemployment. That’s the part that’s frustrating. It’s our money and if I were to withhold money that belong to someone else I’d be in front of a judge probably going to jail,” said Haupricht.

Faber says they’re doing several audits right now to get a handle on all the issues. He did say that Job and Family Services is going from hundreds of thousands of fraudulent claims to now hundreds, so many the backlog will start to clear up.

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