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Thousands of potentially fraudulent unemployment claims continue to be flagged in Ohio

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The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has flagged over 21,000 unemployment claims for potential fraud in its latest weekly unemployment update.

Ohioans have filed 120,446 initial jobless claims for the week of Feb. 21-27. Of those claims, at least 21,000 have been flagged for potential fraud. Over 29,000 claims were flagged the week prior.

On approaching the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic, Ohioans filed 327,382 continued jobless claims last week. That is a 42% drop from the peak of continued jobless claims, the agency said.

The fraudulent claims have plagued unemployment systems recently.

The Associated Press reports that the issue springs from prior identity theft from banks, credit rating agencies, health care systems, and retailers. Fraud perpetrators, sometimes from countries such as China, Nigeria or Russia, buy stolen personal information on the dark web and use it to flood state unemployment systems with bogus claims.

ODJFS said it is working with a consulting firm to see a reduction in fraud cases over the coming weeks.

"Fraud is top of mind for us...fraud is a global issue, a very organized crime," said Jeffrey Ficke, managing director of Russell Allen Partners, a firm contracted for consulting.

Ohio isn't the only state experiencing such problems. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that states have paid as much as $36 billion in improper benefits.

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Anyone who suspects their identity was compromised and used to file a fraudulent unemployment claim should report it to ODJFS by visiting, clicking the “Report Identity Theft” button, and following the instructions. Individuals may also call (833) 658-0394.

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