Illinois unemployment insurance fraud

By Beau Ebenezer

October 9, 2012 Updated Oct 10, 2012 at 10:14 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- The crackdown on jail inmates getting unemployment benefits began earlier this year and now the state says nearly $2 million in unemployment insurance benefits were wrongly paid to jail and prison inmates in Illinois.

Now, the state says it will prosecute violators in an attempt to get the $2 million back.

"What we have done is worked with the Department of Corrections, County sheriffs and other folks and have gotten a database of people who are currently incarcerated. We just check them against people who are claiming unemployment insurance benefits and we stop the payments before they occur," said IDES Director, Jay Rowell.

Peoria County Jail had a total of 21 residents who collected more than $70,000.

Something Sheriff Mike McCoy says isn't their job.

"They should do their job. We have people in jail and its not our job to go back and see who they pay. I'm excited that they finally checked their rolls and found out who owes them money because that is money that we should all be getting," said Peoria County Sheriff, Michael McCoy.

One inmate in the Cook County Jail collected the largest single high of $43,000.

Rowell says their new cross match system should eliminate this fraud from happening again.

"The great part about this is now that we have it up and running. Before we pay out one cent, it will stop it."

A year ago, the US Department of Labor reported that about 12% of the Illinois unemployment benefits between 2008 and 2011 were given to people who weren't entitled to them. That's $1.2 billion.

For the record, Indiana's fraud rate was over 43%.

If you are aware of an individual or employer receiving unemployment to which they are not entitled to, contact IDES at 1-800-814-0513.

Anyone convicted of committing unemployment insurance fraud faces fines, repayment, and jail or prison time.

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