Oh dear. I wonder if other states fell for similar scams.
Love that last quote, giving herself a pat on the back for preventing additional losses. It's also convenient to not have to explain anything to taxpayers "to avoid alerting criminals". Yes, we gave away your money to Nigerian scammers, but we're not going to tell you how it happened or what we're doing to prevent it in the future to avoid tipping off the people who scammed us.Washington state officials have acknowledged the loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” to an international fraud scheme that hammered the state’s unemployment insurance system and could mean even longer delays for thousands of jobless workers still waiting for legitimate benefits.
Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state Employment Security Department (ESD), disclosed the staggering losses during a news conference Thursday afternoon. LeVine declined to specify how much money was stolen during the scam, which is believed to be orchestrated from Nigeria. But she conceded that the amount was “orders of magnitude above” the $1.6 million that the ESD reported losing to fraudsters in April.
LeVine said state and law enforcement officials were working to recover as much of the money as possible, though she declined to say how much had been returned so far. She also said the ESD had taken “a number of steps” to prevent new fraudulent claims from being filed or paid but would not specify the steps, to avoid alerting criminals.
“We do have definitive proof that the countermeasures we have put in place are working,” LeVine said. “We have successfully prevented hundreds of millions of additional dollars from going out to these criminals and prevented thousands of fraudulent claims from being filed.”
Thursday’s disclosure, which came after state officials had largely refused to discuss the scale of the fraud, helped explain the unusual surge in the number of new jobless claims filed last week in Washington. For the week ending May 16, the ESD received 138,733 initial claims for unemployment insurance, a 26.8% increase over the prior week and one of the biggest weekly surges since the coronavirus crisis began.
That sharp increase came as the number of initial jobless claims nationwide fell 9.2%, to 2.4 million, according to data released earlier in the day by the Labor Department.