Stiffer Penalties On The Way For Unemployment Fraud

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

New penalties are set to take effect in Ohio later this month designed to discourage unemployment compensation fraud. The state believes that about $30 million was paid out to people in 2012 who were ineligible for benefits.

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services says $2.3 billion in unemployment compensation was distributed last year and that some $30 million was paid out improperly. In some cases, says spokesman Benjamin Johnson, money went to people who’d already returned to work.

“The most common way that people defraud the program is, they return to work and they don’t notify the State of Ohio. They continued filing claims and checked that they were not working when in fact they were,” Johnson says.

Under a federal mandate the Ohio legislature passed stiffer penalties that take effect October 21st. Most notably, Johnson says, is a 25 percent penalty.

“In addition to repaying all money they received improperly and serving penalty weeks where they are suspended from the program, and possible criminal charges, they will also now have to pay an additional 25 percent penalty,” Johnson says.

In some cases federal indictments have resulted. Last December, The Justice Department identified ten people in or near Central Ohio who allegedly collected between $10,000 and $20,000 dollars in unemployment benefits.