WA Unemployment Check Fraud Case Expands to Nearly $1 Billion
BREAKING NEWS … According to Senator Ann Rivers (18th Legislative District), whose office was briefed today by the Employment Security Department (ESD), the unemployment check fraud case is now approaching $1 billion in lost state funds.
Originally, the suspected fraud loss was $350 million.
“The ESD fraud case is beyond anything originally suspected,” said Rivers. “Nearly $1 billion has been lost to Nigeria and other fraudsters.”
Rivers said the people of Washington have been subject to a series of data breaches over the last several years, which includes Zappos, Primera Blue Cross, and Equifax. This past year, Rivers was the Senate Republican lead on the Data Privacy Bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, but was blocked in the House.
“I knew this was going to be a problem,” said Rivers. “The partisan breakdown in the House is what killed this bill. I worked it very hard. I knew we had to act, and this is unfortunate.”
The bill would have locked down the state’s consumer data to prevent hacking, requiring two-factor authentication, among other security measures.
“The hackers have been waiting for the right moment to attack an underprepared Employment Security Division,” said Rivers. “COVID gave them that opportunity. My office was overwhelmed with calls of people needing help filing unemployment.”
Today, Rivers was notified by ESD that each caucus can help only 20 people per week.
“I was able to get in and help people get the unemployment benefits they deserve, and I was told by ESD I can only help one person a week,” Rivers said. “This is ludricious. Period. That’s like saying to a mother with five children on the Titanic she now must choose her favorite child.”
Rivers said the state needs to act.
“It’s not enough to label the problem, we need to change the leadership to right this ship,” said Rivers. “Families desperately need this money and they’re not getting it.”
Suzie LaVine is the current ESD Director.
Rivers is pushing for a special legislative session in June, and that the Republican caucus will demand LaVine’s termination.
More to come.
Thanks for breaking this news!
Here’s the link to the original story I wrote 10 days ago, trying to expose the incompetence of the ESD in protecting your money related to this Nigerian scam.
The Nigerian scam has gotten worse! Unbelievably, Attorney General Bob Ferguson shut down a “cyber crimes” unit that was started by former AG Christine Gregoire. She later became Governor.
This was like putting out the welcome mat to cyber criminals.
Here’s more of the details.
I have bee trying for months to get help for a self employed person but keep being told I am not eligible. I have worked for 20 years as a self employed machinist in my own shop and paid my taxes. Why can’t I get help when it is needed?
The bill Mrs. River’s was pushing is a tech industry sop. The house tried to patch it up but couldn’t get it finished. Her bill would have done nothing to prevent this problem and, it would not have done much to help with the problems it sought to fix either. It would give the tech industry, that wrote it, a lot of protection from shady practices. It was vague as to what “sale” and “personal data” even mean. It had no global opt out for consumers to just plain refuse to have their data collected and passed around. She would be better off reconsidering her position on properly funding IT infrastructure improvements state wide. As always her bill prohibited consumers from holding companies that violated their rights from bringing a suit to recover their damages.
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Thanks for your article. My children are suffering. Even when I do get my payments back I don’t know when I’ll get caught up. It’s unfathomable that we citizens are being put through this, and no one seems to care.
Seems the Intent of esd and state officials actions are to appease the people that are organizing over valid concern allowing time for bandaid of underfunded situation, deter state and dept officials from being sued (and political ramifications), damage control over bad decisions like overriding/waiving esd claim/payment precautions like waiting week (motivation for state funding from fed including which includes admin fees: dept dollars , same reason applies for esd encouragement to apply for peuc immediately) Per the pre-established federal guidelines making Washington state liable for any funds lost from fraud, also ramifications to certain grants and other federal funds. Esd then manipulated the facts and mislead Washingtonians.
Can not find any Data Privacy Bill in Sen. River’s Prime or Secondary Sponsorship list on her website. Please share the bill number.
Mainstream Republicans of WA Board Member
The real problem with the theft of “hundreds of millions” of the people’s money, via the Washington state Unemployment fund, was NOT a hack of the state’s computer system. It was in fact the inability of government bureaucrats to verify the identity of people asking to receive unemployment benefits from our state.
Read more about it here!
I have been search all day on the WA gov sites and Google to see how to address getting an official letter of overpayment of 10K, yet I was never unemployed. Filed a fraud, however go in circles on the 800 lines to talk to someone. I realize this is low priority, compared to those needing help, however their letter says I must start payments by July 7.
With all your knowledge of this issue, are you aware of any link to get information on if folks like me are liable for that overpayment that we had no idea about and likely went to Nigeria?