Labor Department Investigation Leads to $207K in Restitution
45 Individuals Charged with Fraudulently Receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits
An ongoing investigation by the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has resulted in guilty pleas from 45 individuals for fraudulent receipt of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits from the state. The individuals were charged with stealing by deceit and have been ordered to pay more than $207,000 in restitution.
“Unemployment Insurance is an important program to help people get back on their feet and stabilize the economy,” says Department Director Larry Rebman. “This Department, along with the administration, is committed to making sure this money gets into the right hands, while at the same time, aggressively pursues those who attempt to cheat the system.”
Routine audits revealed 45 ineligible individuals received UI benefits. These individuals provided false information on weekly applications for UI benefits which caused benefits to be improperly paid. This type of fraud generally constitutes a class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to seven years imprisonment or, if the sentence is suspended, can result in placement on probation for up to five years and an order to make restitution. The individual restitution amounts in these cases range from $1,541 to nearly $7,954. In 2009, the Department so far has collected more than $707,000 in restitution from cases that have been disposed in previous years.
When the Division of Employment Security (DES) determines a claimant has been overpaid or fraudulently received benefits, benefit charges leveled against the claimant's employer(s) are credited back. For reimbursable employers, the employer receives a credit which can be applied to its next billing or refunded upon request.
The Department is looking at ways to increase its ability to further reduce fraud, including denying future benefits to those who commit fraud and giving the DES more tools to use in collecting money from those who commit fraud. Currently, Missouri law allows those found guilty of fraud to collect UI benefits despite having outstanding penalties. Over the past few years, these penalties have totaled more than $11 million.
For more information about the Missouri Department of Labor or how to file an Unemployment Insurance claim, visit www.labor.mo.gov.