The Crime Commission of the state along with the DOC and the Department of Labor are now working together to crack down on growing instances of fraudulent unemployment claims filed by inmates. In the two years from 2013-2015, over $150,000 were given out in unemployment benefits under such false claims.
Nearly 180 inmates were involved in the scam wherein a small technical loophole was being exploited to claim benefits while being incarcerated. Pursuant to Nebraska laws, criminals who are serving time cannot file for unemployment benefits. However, the Department of Labor had no way to check if an applicant was in prison or not.
To ensure that the system is not misused, the three agencies have now come together and will be sharing the information held by each. So, in the future, the DOL will be able to cross check information from the database of the Nebraska Criminal Justice Information System as well as from the portal of the Department of Corrections. This will help the agency to accurately determine if they are handling a genuine application or a criminal serving time who is trying to cheat the system.
As far as the funds that have already been disbursed are concerned, the state has no intentions of letting the scammers get away with the money. In a bid to recover the benefits that have already been handed out, the DOL will use wage levies and even withhold federal and state tax refunds. In addition to this, recipients of such monies will have to pay a 15% fine on the total amount received, which is supposed to serve as a deterrent for others who intend to scam the system.
At this point, Nebraska has one of the lowest unemployment insurance scam rates at 1%. This is lower than the 2.72% national average, and given the new measures to counter such crimes, it is likely that this rate may plunge further.