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New York State is pursuing people who fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits. The State paid out about $65 billion to 4 million residents, according to WKBW. They have found 425,000 fraudulent claims, as well as people who may not have filed fraudulently, but were not eligible to receive benefits.

According to Rochester FIrst, the NYS Department of Labor is putting federal prosecutors and law enforcement on the case.

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,

“Unemployment fraud is – sadly – a scourge that we have to fight every day, but it is particularly despicable that criminals would use a global pandemic as cover to attempt to defraud our system. These benefits have been a lifeline for millions of New Yorkers over the last year, and every day our Office of Special Investigations is working to protect our system from fraud and abuse. Our team is using technology, including artificial intelligence and other sophisticated techniques, to identify fraud as quickly as possible and stop these criminals in their tracks. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at all levels to bring these thieves to justice.”

 

Two Buffalo Men Facing PPP Fraud Charges

Speaking of COVID-19 relief fraud, two Buffalo men have been charged with scamming the Paycheck Protection Program. Larry Jordan and Sutukh El were indicted by a grand jury, according to WKBW. They have been charged with wire and bank fraud conspiracy, bank fraud, and engaging in transactions with criminally derived property.

The men, who are brothers, filed fraudulent PPP loan applications requesting almost $7 million. U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy said,

“These brothers allegedly stole more than $600,000 which was intended to assist businesses and employees that have been crippled by the pandemic. Their greed in the face of a national crisis has rightly landed them in federal court under indictment. We will investigate and charge anyone who seeks to use emergency federal aid as a way to try to get rich quick.”

The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help struggling businesses, which were affected by COVID-19. The program was implemented under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Up to $349 billion was allocated to forgivable loans. Businesses were supposed to use the funds to help retain jobs and keep their businesses afloat during the pandemic.

9 Resources of WNYers Financially Impacted by COVID-19