CHICAGO - Scammers have been stealing identities and scamming the state for unemployment funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Anywhere from $500 to $15,000. I said that doesn’t make any sense. I wanted to know the exact number and they told me they didn’t know,” said Eric, an unemployment fraud victim.
Someone used Eric's identity and exact address, and then requested to change the address to a home down the block.
Turns out, that the home and address do not exist.
“This has been going on since September, and I still haven’t heard back from unemployment since then,” Eric said.
A woman in her 70s says she opened the mail at her Oak Park home. When sorting through her mail, she saw a letter for pandemic unemployment assistance, and she is set to collect over $7,000.
She even received a debit card. She retired back in 2014, and she said she never applied for the benefits.
Businesses have been impacted too, like Imani Children’s Academy on 114th and Halsted.
The owner, Marianne Powell, received documents from the state.
Four people listed their names and social security numbers, claiming her business as their former employer.
“I have to send in paperwork that says they never worked here. I don’t even know them, never even interviewed them. Who are these people?” said Powell.
The FBI says they have received complaints and anticipate reports will continue to increase in Illinois.
The Better Business Bureau says there are thousands of victims out there.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security says to call them if you are a victim. You should also file a police report and monitor your credit.
Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for more identity theft tips.