Maryland Labor Dept. takes back some unemployment benefits over fraud fears

A new hurdle for those trying to collect unemployment insurance in Maryland: FOX 5 has learned some were given benefits only to have them suddenly canceled due to fraud concerns.

“Eleven weeks were paid to me at one time. I physically had the money on the card in my account,” said Stacy Kanaval. “And they took it away.”

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This is impacting people who live outside the state. Kanaval moved from Maryland to Ohio last year and said it took weeks for Ohio to let her know she needed to file in Maryland.

She finally got her benefits, but before she could spend a dime, she got a notice on July 4 that her state debit card was closed.

”Just in tears for hours. Just, ‘What am I going to do?’” she said. “My bank account has nothing in it, I have nothing and I’ve borrowed and done everything I can.”

She soon found out that she had to upload additional documents to verify her identity which she said she did immediately. Kanaval said she’s continuing to wait for someone to review the documents and reinstate her claim. She realized after posting on Facebook that others are going through the same thing.

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A spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Labor said this is happening to some out-of-state claimants due to concerns about fraud.

“...our department has taken a series of steps to ensure program integrity is maintained out of an abundance of caution. As the email to claimants states, our staff is quickly reviewing documents to verify and reinstate accounts,” wrote spokeswoman Fallon Pearre.

FOX 5 asked how many people are impacted and the timeline for reviewing the documents, but got no response.
Meanwhile, FOX 5 talked to a Montgomery County man who believes he’s the victim of unemployment insurance fraud, but can’t get anyone to help him.

Michael Greene said he got notice in the mail at his business last week that someone is trying to file unemployment in his name

“Low and behold, my name’s on there with my Social Security number,” Greene said. “And I’ve been working here for 33 years. I’m the president, one of the owners here, so I did not file. Obviously someone’s trying to perpetrate a fraud.”

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He says he immediately contacted the unemployment office where the notice came from.

“Got the recording. Said they would be in touch with us within 48 hours. Here we are eight days later. Nobody’s called us back,” said Greene.

He shared an email from the labor department that came Wednesday saying someone should call him soon. Now both he and Kanaval are waiting for resolution.

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“I just keep telling myself maybe tomorrow it will be fixed,” said Kanaval.

We learned Thursday that Maryland is seeing the highest number of new unemployment filings in two months. Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said the department has gotten more claims in the last three months than in the last three years.

Typically on Thursdays, we get an update on the backlog, but that didn’t happen this week. Last week it was over 23,000.