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Washington’s Unemployment Insurance Lost Over $100 Million to a Nigerian Scam

(The Post Millennial) Suzi LeVine, commissioner of the state Employment Security Department (ESD), acknowledged the loss of “hundreds of millions of dollars” to an international fraud scheme that crippled the state’s unemployment insurance system. Levine did not specify an exact figure of the losses.

In April, Governor Jay Inslee and LeVine, a 2018 Inslee appointee, touted that they were relaxing the vetting of unemployment claims so as to get money to recipients as quickly as possible.

ESD officials acknowledged that, because of the elimination of the “waiting week” between the time a claim is filed and the time the benefit is paid, the agency wasn’t always able to get verification from employers about a claim before payment was made.

ESD officials claim that fraudsters targeted Washington because it was among the first states to begin paying out new benefits available under the federal stimulus bill. The legislation increased those benefits available under existing state unemployment insurance systems, including issuing an extra $600 per week.

It is presumed that the group of schemers likely used personal information about Washingtonian residents from previous consumer-data breaches…

According to the Seattle Times: “…among the criminal groups implicated in the fraud is a Nigerian organization known as Scattered Canary, according to a report released this week by Agari, a California-based cybersecurity firm that has tracked the African organization’s activities. The group has been running scams for more than a decade, working to steal Social Security payments, student aid and disaster relief funds, among other targets, the report said.”

This has let to an explosion on social media of pundits mocking government officials for falling for the well known email scam of inheriting money from a Nigerian prince.

[Read more…]

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