TINLEY PARK, Ill. — Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced a new task force to help combat unemployment fraud Friday, as incidences of the issue have skyrocketed recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lynn Fitzgerald discovered through her employer in October 2020 that someone had filed for unemployment in her name. Fitzgerald then realized her husband was being targeted as well.
The couple have had correspondents come to their door discussing benefits neither of them asked for, along with unsolicited letters piling up every week.
“Everyone in our house has been employed and they said we stopped employment in March,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald added she later received a letter asking her to repay money they never received. The family said the incident was reported immediately.
Raoul announced Friday that the state will partner with the FBI to establish a new task force, allowing state and federal resources to be deployed on a large scale to tackle the issue.
Emerson Buie Junior of the FBI said scammers have taken the opportunity of unemployment increases during the pandemic as a chance to scam.
“We have the ability to utilize federal resources and capabilities to bring forth a strong investigation against people,” Buie Junior said.
Tinley Park police chief Matthew Walsh said the village has seen 284 incidents of reported unemployment fraud in December alone, after receiving zero in April and May.
If you encounter any problems with fraud or identity theft, you can contact the Attorney General identity theft hotline at 866-999-5630.