Issues regarding federal unemployment have been a hot topic over the last few years. Recently, the government has begun investigating cases of potential fraud. Let’s discuss how individuals are being investigated and charged with unemployment fraud and what you should do if you believe you’re at risk of facing criminal charges.
What is Unemployment Fraud?
Generally, unemployment fraud occurs when an individual intentionally provides false information to receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment fraud may also occur if an individual exaggerates or withholds information to continue receiving once valid payments.
Some common examples of unemployment insurance fraud include:
- An individual not reporting when they return to work
- An individual not reporting a part-time job in order to receive more benefits
- Falsely claiming to have contacted potential employers or apply for jobs
- Using someone else’s identity to obtain unemployment benefits
Early last year, the Florida State government was investigating nearly 50,000 cases of potential unemployment fraud. Since then, the number of cases has only increased. It is estimated that Florida has paid well over $780 million in fraudulent unemployment claims.
Detecting Unemployment Fraud
A significant number of federal agencies are actively investigating cases of unemployment fraud.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations
- The U.S. Department of Labor
- The Department of Homeland Security
- The Internal Revenue Service
- The U.S. Postal Inspection Service
- The Social Security Office
In addition to general efforts from these agencies, the federal government has formed a ‘National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force.’ This group of investigators is working with state organizations throughout the country to uncover instances of fraud. This task force has also put out information encouraging others to report potential instances of fraud, and report if their identity has been compromised in an unemployment fraud scheme.
There is also a task force for general COVID-19 fraud which is investigating other matters such as PPP loan fraud, EIDL fraud, CARES Act fraud, and more.
Signs You’re Being Investigated for UI Fraud
There are some key signs that point to being under federal investigation.
Some things to note include:
- If you are contacted by a federal agency
- If a federal officer contacts your loved ones
- If the police execute a search warrant for your home
- Your records are subpoenaed
One of the most common ways that someone is alerted that they are under federal investigation is through a target letter. A target letter is a physical letter sent by the federal government to someone who is under criminal investigation. Generally, a target letter will inform the suspect that they are the target of an ongoing investigation, what crime they are accused of committing, their Fifth Amendment rights, and how to exercise their right to legal counsel.
A target letter comes before a formal indictment. When a person is officially accused of committing a crime and charged, this is called indictment. While receiving a target letter does not mean you will definitely be indicted, the odds of indictment are high.
What To Do After Receiving a Target Letter
If you recently received a target letter or have otherwise been alerted of potential fraud charges against you, the first thing you should do is contact a federal defense attorney. Ensure that the attorney you hire has experience handling federal cases similar to yours. A federal defense attorney can help guide you through your case, ensuring you do not do or say anything that hurts your defense. They will also have invaluable knowledge of your rights, defense strategies, and ultimately how to best handle your case.
Miami Federal Fraud Defense Attorneys
When you find out that you are under federal fraud investigation, you may begin to panic. Our attorneys at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. know how scary it is to face such serious criminal accusations, and the potential consequences of a conviction. If you are charged with committing unemployment fraud, COVID-19 fraud, or any other federal fraud offense, know that our experienced team is here to help.
Call today to discuss your case and get started on your defense: (305) 985-6640.