Nearly $1 million dollars have been returned to state coffers in recent years by the successful prosecution of unemployment insurance fraud, making it one of the leaders in recovering those funds, according to Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr.
Scarpino announced on Monday that his office has returned nearly $900,000 in restitution over the past five years, including $317,842 last year. The average false claim ranged from $3,500 to $30,000.
In total, from January 2013 through December last year, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office prosecuted 102 cases of unemployment fraud, including “cases against claimants improperly receiving benefits as well as those unlawfully collecting unemployment benefits while living in countries outside the United States. In these particular cases, claimants conspired with others, typically family and friends living in the U.S., to falsely certify for them, a scheme that can sometimes go on for years,” Scarpino noted.
“Unemployment insurance benefits serve as a lifeline for individuals who are out of work and in need of financial assistance while they search for meaningful employment," he said. "For those people who would collect benefits, knowing they are ineligible, we send a strong message by prosecuting them to the full extent of the law.”
According to the New York State Department of Labor, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office is “one of the leading District Attorney offices in New York State for returned restitution to the Department of Labor,” falling only behind Erie County, New York County and Queens County.
In a letter to Scarpino last month, New York State Department of Labor Office of Fraud Investigations Director Vince Coyne praised Scarpino, saying that "prosecuting individuals who illegally secured unemployment insurance benefits and restoring the restitution to the Trust Fund allows future unemployed claimants to receive weekly financial aid. Your prosecutions also send a powerful message that your office is determined to protect the Trust Fund, the employers, and tax-payers of Westchester County.”
Those who wish to report potential unemployment insurance fraud have been asked to contact the Westchester County District Attorney's Economic Crimes Bureau by calling (914) 995-3460.
“Bilking the system of financial aid earmarked for people in need has a collateral effect,” Scarpino added. “Businesses pay more and, in turn, those costs are passed along to consumers. We take these crimes seriously, and we will continue to work with the Department of Labor, Homeland Security and the New York State Police to bring those who defraud the State to justice.”
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