BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) – Erie County’s top prosecutor says there’s been a lot of unemployment insurance fraud attempted during the pandemic, with tens of thousands of attempts within New York to file claims under other people’s names. District Attorney John Flynn knows this, because he’s among the victims.
Flynn confirmed Thursday that earlier in the week, he learned of a fraudulent unemployment claim filed using his name and information. He received a letter from the New York State Department of Labor Monday, and reported the fraud the following day.
“Whenever this happens, immediately they – they being the Department of Labor – go to the person’s employer,” said Flynn of the state’s investigation. “So they went to the County of Erie. The County of Erie knew right away that I had never been laid off, nor I had never taken any time off. So it was caught and frozen right away. The person never got any money at all.”
The person hasn’t been caught at this time. Flynn laughed when thinking of the hubris it would require to knowingly use a prominent prosecutor’s personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment claim. The perpetrator, he told WBFO, could be someone from out of the state or even from outside the country.
Fraudulent claims are happening a lot during the pandemic, elected officials warn, and people from all walks of life are finding themselves receiving notices from the Labor Department about claims they never actually filed. Flynn says if you receive one, notify the Labor Department and your employer.
“The Department of Labor told my office that they are investigating, and they have already identified 425,000 fraudulent claims statewide,” he said.