Unemployment fraud occurs when a person intentionally and willfully utilizes deception, lying, or misrepresentation to get unemployment insurance payments. This is a highly specific sort of white-collar crime in which both employers and employees may be involved.
The requirements for collecting unemployment benefits differ by state. In most states, people can only collect unemployment benefits if they are unemployed, actively looking for work, or have had their hours reduced to less than full-time.
If a person makes any false statements in order to collect unemployment or to assist someone else in collecting unemployment illegally, they may face legal consequences.
Fraudulent unemployment claims, primarily from the coronavirus outbreak, might cost the system up to $25 billion. Officials are determined not to let fraud jeopardize payments to those in need. Because prosecutors are so relentless, seeking legal representation for unemployment fraud allegations is critical.
Individuals making false assertions to well-organized criminals filing massive numbers of bogus applications are all part of the problem. Some convicts in county jails are being investigated for allegedly collecting unemployment benefits while jailed.
On the other end of the spectrum, a Nigerian criminal group is accused of stealing thousands of people’s personal information. According to investigators, the gang filed bogus claims totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in a half-dozen states.
People are losing their cars and their homes, and they are relocating with other family members because they can’t afford to pay for things. It’s a major catastrophe for a lot of people, and it’s not just a few isolated incidents.
Understanding what constitutes fraud is the first step toward receiving assistance for unemployment fraud allegations. In a word, fraud is the intentional distortion of a current material fact in order to obtain a monetary benefit.
Making a misleading statement or concealing information is an example of misrepresentation. Normally, the misrepresentation just needs to be deliberate. That’s not the same as malicious.
Even if blatantly false, misrepresentation of a future fact is not considered fraud. A good example is bad checks. A check that has been postdated is not a bad check. The creator concedes that there is insufficient cash in the account right now, but there may be enough dollars eventually.
An unemployment fraud lawyer can help defend you if you’re facing unemployment fraud charges.
These unemployment fraud prosecutions typically involve the application itself or the applicant’s follow-up.
During first assessments, investigators frequently seek fraud indicators such as:
- Failure to record all sources of income, such as a freelance gig or money earned through odd jobs
- Falsifying school attendance
- Manufacturing job hunts
- Social Security Number fraud, which involves using someone else’s information to work or claim benefits
- Failure to declare inability to work owing to illness or serious injury, as well as failure to report workers’ compensation or other benefit payments
Unemployment fraud may result in a prison term, depending on the monetary amount involved. For example, in Montana a fraud involving insurance benefits exceeding $1500 can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
Fraud cases are extremely serious. Because they are nonviolent, there are a variety of viable remedies, particularly if the person has no past criminal record.
In these cases, pretrial diversion is frequently possible. Prosecutors dismiss the case if the defendant makes restitution, which usually entails returning some benefits and meeting other program requirements. Pretrial diversion usually has no drawbacks. Prosecutors just pick up where they left off if the defendant fails to qualify or complete the program.
Deferred adjudication is a high-risk, high-reward strategy. Individuals who do not qualify for pretrial diversion, possibly due to criminal history, are usually eligible for deferred adjudication. The defendant is sentenced to probation by the judge. The judge dismisses the case if the offender successfully completes probation. As a result, the defendant has no prior convictions.
The judge can sentence the defendant to the maximum penalty if the defendant violates probation. As a result, before accepting deferred adjudication, you should consult with an attorney.