More than three weeks after Maryland announced a massive, coordinated unemployment scam, authorities say no arrests have been made and no information has been provided on who was behind the scheme.
Meanwhile, FOX 5 continues to hear from people whose benefits were frozen as part of the $501 million fraud investigation.
“I just want it to get resolved so I can take care of my kids,” said Kimberly Schlorb.
“It’s been causing a lot of problems financially because, like, my rent is due right now,” said Nicole Tucker.
Both women said they got a notice from Maryland’s Department of Labor saying their state-issued debit cards had been canceled “because additional documentation is needed to verify” their identity.
“I sent them information – driver’s license, my Social Security card and still there’s nothing,” said Tucker. “It’s been six weeks now.”
“I call unemployment every day,” said Schlorb.
Anita Williams said she was never notified why her account was frozen but said an unemployment specialist told her she was wrapped up in the fraud investigation. Williams believes it’s because the headquarters of her former employer is out of state.
“I am out of money, I have two small children, I’m just about out of food,” said Williams. “So I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s just an absolute nightmare and it’s unbelievable.”
On July 15, Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference to announce that fraudsters were trying to steal half a billon dollars in state unemployment benefits and 47,000 fake claims had been uncovered.
“A few real people who really needed benefits got caught up in that,” Hogan said at the press conference.
The labor department has not provided a more specific number of people impacted, despite multiple requests from FOX 5.
Spokeswoman Fallon Pearre said “hundreds” of claims are being verified and reinstated every day. She also says of all the people who had to provide additional proof of identity, over 70 percent have had their documents reviewed and a determination made. But she says in over 40 percent of those cases, the additional documents were fraudulent.
Pearre said that reinforces the need to “manually review these suspicious claims.”
FOX 5 is working to get the number of people impacted through a Maryland public information act request.
While initially, the state said it was primarily claimants with out-of-state addresses who were impacted, Schlorb, Tucker and Williams said they live in Maryland.
Coordinated unemployment fraud continues to be revealed across the U.S. Two months ago, a group of senators wrote a letter to the U.S. Labor Dept. requesting more transparency about who’s to blame and a longterm solution to the problem. There has been no reply, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
A pair of researchers have mapped out how the U.S. has been impacted by the unemployment crisis, down to the to the neighborhood.
The New York Times posted the map of the D.C. region.