Unemployment insurance scam targets Wisconsin

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- A new scam is targeting consumers, employers and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and it could be part of a scam happening nationwide.

The Wisconsin DWD says it’s found more than 440 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits that could be connected to a larger fraud case.

“You just feel like you have been victimized,” Victoria Seltun said.

The last two days for local attorney Victoria Seltun have been spent on countless phone calls with police, the state unemployment office and even the FBI.

She's just one of the latest victims of identity theft in an ongoing federal investigation. Someone used her personal information to file for unemployment benefits.

“The person had opened up a checking account using my information and the DWD had actually deposited one weeks' worth of wages into that bank account,” Seltun explained.

Seltun says she first found out her identity had been compromised when her employer got a letter saying she had filed for unemployment insurance benefits.

“Many employers don't pay attention to this they get multiple notices from DWD all the time on unemployment claims and employers don't take the time to open them and respond,” she said. “This is exactly what the thieves are hoping for.”

Seltun says information from the DWD shows one payment of $370 was deposited into a bogus bank account before her employer received a letter from the state verifying that she should be receiving unemployment benefits. She says had her employer not notified the DWD of the fraudulent behavior, the scammer could have received up to $9620.

In a statement, the Department of Workforce Development says its systems haven't been compromised and they remain secure. The DWD says its, “fully cooperating with an ongoing federal investigation.”

For Vicki Seltun, the questions surrounding how her information was stolen still remain. But the local attorney has some advice for others out there that could be the next victim of this latest scam.

“If you get mail at home from the DWD don't just ignore it,” she said.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says it is still looking into how much may have been paid out to scammers.

They say if you think you've been the target of this scam, report it to the Unemployment Fraud Hotline at 1-800-909-9472. They also have a website to report suspected fraud. You can find a link to that on the right-hand side of this screen under related items.

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