State cracks down on unemployment insurance fraud

Improper claimants face prison, fine
Nov 27, 2012

RALEIGH —  The Division of Employment Security (DES) continues to make changes to strengthen the state’s unemployment insurance program.

In a report released to members of the state’s legislative task force on unemployment insurance, DES outlines ongoing management improvements and upcoming changes to the unemployment insurance program that includes potential felony charges and revised weekly certification questions.

“While the Division is working to enhance the methods for which we detect fraud, there has to be a tougher penalty for those found guilty of fraud,” said DES Assistant Secretary Dempsey Benton. “The General Assembly passed legislation this year to do this. The felony charge will hopefully deter some of those individuals who choose to fraud the system. Adding more questions to the weekly certification process enhances the integrity of the program and will add more responsibility for the claimants when answering them.”

Beginning December 1, 2012, if the amount of benefits improperly obtained is more than $400, the claimant as well as any person providing assistance would be charged with a Class I felony.  An individual may be punished by imprisonment in the State’s prison system from 3 to 8 months and a fine may also be assessed.

If the amount of benefits obtained is $400 or less, the claimant as well as any person providing assistance would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. An individual may be punished by imprisonment in the State’s prison system from 1-120 days and a fine may also be assessed.

The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) recommended to the DES that the number of weekly certification questions be increased. The number of weekly certification questions will increase from six to 14 in late December.

Newer questions include the claimant answering if they understand that they may be prosecuted in a court of law for giving false statements or withholding information and whether or not they have quit a job since filing for benefits.