BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) works tirelessly to uphold the integrity of the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) system, a crucial safety-net for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent economic crisis. Sophisticated criminal enterprises have targeted the UI program, attempting to take advantage of agencies like the LWC who are already overwhelmed with the sheer volume of claims over the last 14 months.
“We have zero-tolerance for criminals who exploit our systems at the expense of Louisianians,” said LWC Secretary Ava Cates. “My team is committed to identifying and investigating those who take advantage of relief meant for people in need.”
To date, the LWC has turned over more than 35,000 cases of suspected fraud to law enforcement agencies across the state.
Both international and domestic criminals are capitalizing on the current vulnerability of state agencies like the LWC and filing fraudulent unemployment insurance claims using the stolen identities of real people. Incarcerated individuals have become a target of criminal groups, because they are unable to monitor breaches of their personal information. However, in many cases the incarcerated are also the perpetrators or co-conspirators responsible for filing fraudulent UI claims.
LWC cross-matches its benefit payments against a national incarceration data network hosted by Appriss, which pulls data from two thousand jails and DOC facilities. Appriss is also used by at least 15 other state workforce agencies to combat fraud. However, the information we receive from Appriss is only as reliable as the data it obtains from jails and DOC facilities. We are working with our vendor to determine why there was in issue cross-matching process which helps identify if individuals are eligible for benefits.
The potential overpayments found by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA) represent 0.0013, or 0.13%, of the approximately 900,000 individuals paid since the start of the pandemic and 0.0007, or 0.07%, of the more than $8.6 billion paid out for the same time period.
The LWC has already started addressing the concerns identified in the report and is putting in new safeguards and processes in place to prevent fraud. We will continue to work diligently and swiftly to identify and resolve these issues.
About the Louisiana Workforce Commission
The Louisiana Workforce Commission is an agency of state government that administers programs designed to enhance workforce growth and provide family-sustaining jobs for Louisiana residents. The commission monitors employment, administers unemployment compensation and tax funds, provides training resources for employers and employees, and oversees worker compensation benefits. The agency also gathers and supplies information on the labor market and occupational sectors in Louisiana.
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