Unemployment Insurance Fraud

Graphic: Cath Virginia for ProPublica.

Did you or someone you know have their identity stolen and used to file a fake unemployment insurance claim? If so, you’re far from alone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment insurance fraud exploded to unprecedented levels and caused financial hardships and headaches for millions of Americans.

I recently took a deep dive into this problem for ProPublica. I found an entire online infrastructure that had been mobilized to help international criminal syndicates monetize millions of personal records that had been leaked onto the dark web over the years. When the pandemic hit, the expanded unemployment insurance benefits enacted by Congress provided a huge incentive for identity thieves to use that information to steal from taxpayers.

My investigation published in July and since then my inbox has been flooded with newstips, insights and stories from readers who have struggled with this problem in recent months. If you’re one of them, please reach out to me – I’d love to hear your story. Here is how to contact me securely.

For more on my reporting on this, check out this newsletter we published detailing some of the story behind the story or listen to this radio interview with Pittsburgh’s NPR station in which I summarized my main findings. I also discussed my reporting with The Postscript and shared some insights on how the story came together.