State turns attention to unemployment insurance fraud

Approximately 40 fraudulent claims have been identified in the past week.

The state’s department of labor announced Tuesday it would take action against fraudulent claims of unemployment insurance benefits provided the coronavirus relief bill.

“The Department of Labor and Workforce Development will vigorously pursue all fraudulent activities to the fullest extent of the law,” Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Tamika Ledbetter said in a June 2 press release.

Cathy Munoz, department of labor deputy commissioner, said via email that approximately 40 fraudulent claims have been identified in the past week.

“Fraudulent claims reduce the amount of funds available to help Alaskan families who are unemployed and in need of assistance,” Munoz said. “The Department takes fraudulent activity to collect UI benefits very seriously.”

There were 48,000 continued unemployment insurance claims in Alaska as of the week of May 16, according to a May 27 report from the Department of Labor. In addition to the number of continued claims, 8,152 initial claims were filed that week. Continued unemployment insurance claims were down by 2,049 from the previous week, but 41,399 higher than the same time last year.

Alaska’s job count was down by 42,200 jobs in April of 2020 when compared to April of 2019. According to the latest data from the department of labor, the preliminary unemployment rate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough in April was 17.2%. In March, the unemployment rate in the borough was 7.2%.

A person commits unemployment insurance fraud by knowingly submitting false information, knowingly continuing to collect benefits when ineligible, intentionally collecting benefits without reporting wages or income or not reporting when suitable employment or available work is refused, according to the release.

A person may be committing fraud if they refuse an offer of work because unemployment insurance pays more than their weekly wage. Requesting to have hours reduced or quitting available work in order to obtain benefits is also considered fraud.

A person found guilty of fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits will be ineligible for any additional payments, must repay the benefits received and is subject to criminal prosecution.

More in News

Debris from a large natural avalanche that occurred Monday, Dec. 6, can be seen along the Seward Highway. (Photo courtesy Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center)
Winter weather brings hazardous conditions to peninsula

On Tuesday, the Chugach Avalanche Center announced “very dangerous avalanche conditions.”

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Hospital puts vaccine mandates on hold

A federal lawsuit challenging the ruling has temporarily blocked its enforcement.

A joint investigation between the FBI and Canadian law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of a Canadian man for cybercrimes on Nov. 30, 2021. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Canadian man indicted in international cybercrime case

His attacks targeted State of Alaska computers as well as Canadian ones.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion
The remains of the Triumvirate Theatre in Nikiski are seen on Feb. 22.
Triumvirate awarded $1 million to replace destroyed building

Triumvirate’s former building burned down Feb. 20.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meets on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Lawmakers, school board talk Juneau priorities

Lawmakers were invited for an “open discussion” about the upcoming legislative session.

A school closure announcement from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was issued Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
Schools closed for Tuesday in Homer, Anchor Point

Central peninsula schools are still planned to open.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel (left) and Kenai City Council Member Henry Knackstedt speak at a joint work session at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council defeats efforts to extend review of land management plan

The proposal would have divided the plan into four chunks that each of the city’s commissions would review one at a time.

Cheryl Fellman checks her watch before attempting an Ice Mile. An Ice Mile is a type of endurance swim that tasks swimmers with covering a mile in water that is 41 degrees or colder. Fellman swam a mile in just under 35 minutes on Saturday at Auke Recreation Area. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Juneau woman completes a mile in near-freezing water

The 49-year-old mother of two and longtime Juneau resident swam Saturday for more than half an hour.

Most Read