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Pritzker addresses fraud within national unemployment program

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Chicago, IL - Gov. JB Pritzker addressed scams found within the nation's Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program during his briefing Wednesday. This is one of several issues the Illinois Department of Employment Security has dealt with in recent months.

Pritzker says Illinois is fully cooperating with federal investigators. IDES is also providing all necessary information to Attorney General Kwame Raoul's office. The governor explained that PUA is a national program designed poorly in a short timeframe, which left claimants susceptible to fraud.

Pritzker says IDES has identified over 120,000 counts of fraud. That's a combination of the 107,000 counts found in the PUA system and roughly 14,500 claimants in the state's standard unemployment system.

"The number of fraudulent claims pales in comparison to the number of genuine Illinoisans need of assistance," Pritzker said.

To put this in perspective, IDES has processed more than two million claims in 2020, which is more than eight times the 271,000 claims processed last year.

"The highly experienced money launderers who have perpetrated these crimes use the same payment methods that regular filers do," Pritzker explained. "For that reason, IDES can't simply cut off common dispersal mechanisms that also serve as lifelines for innocent users."

The governor notes anyone receiving a debit card for unemployment without applying should go to the IDES website and report fraud and identity theft. Pritzker explained individuals in this situation do not have to call the department's hotline, as employees will get back with them to address the issue.

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Mike Miletich

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