Prosecutors, state recover $1.9M in unemployment fraud

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The state Labor Department and district attorneys recovered $1.9 million in unemployment insurance fraud in 2012, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday.

The Labor Department referred 771 cases for criminal prosecution last year.

cuomogovannounceThe district attorney’s offices that returned the most money in 2012 were: $178,033 in Orange County; $153,587 in Queens; and $134,724 in Monroe County.

“Unemployment insurance fraud drives up costs for honest businesses and jeopardizes the benefits of the workers who rely on this vital safety net,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Such criminal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and I applaud our local partners who pursue these cases for their vital help in returning these stolen funds back to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.”

Dutchess County was also among the highest, recouping nearly $100,000 last year. Ulster County had about $82,000 recovered.

Monroe County this year has so far had the most success in prosecuting unemployment fraud. Convictions in the county have recovered $92,081 in 2013.

“One year ago, I created a specialized Economic Crime Bureau to protect taxpayers from this abuse and hold these criminals accountable, and it has been a tremendous success,” Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said in a statement. “I believe that I speak for taxpayers across the state when I thank Governor Cuomo for funding the critical programs needed to recover these stolen dollars.”

The recouped funds are returned to the state’s unemployment trust fund, which employers pay into to fund the program when people lose their jobs.

New York has one of the largest unemployment systems in the country, paying out $7.1 billion to 1.1 million people in 2012. At the height of the recession in 2009, the state paid out $9.2 billion in UI payments to 1.2 million people.

To report fraud in the unemployment insurance system, call the Department of Labor’s toll-free fraud hotline at (888) 598-2077.

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