Making a False Statement to Obtain Unemployment Benefits
In some situations, when Florida residents are stuck between jobs, they have the option of applying for unemployment benefits. In order to receive these benefits, applicants must meet certain requirements and provide specific information to the government. When the information supplied is incorrect or misleading, the individual could be charged with fraud. Fraud charges can have devastating consequences for a defendant’s personal life and business reputation, so if you are being investigated for a fraud-related crime, it is critical to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help you formulate a defense.
Before applicants can begin receiving temporary unemployment benefits, they must establish that:
- Their past earnings meet a minimum threshold;
- They are unemployed through no fault of their own; and
- They are able to work and are actively seeking employment.
To help prove that they satisfy these requirements, applicants must submit information regarding their past employment and current job search.
False Statements and Misrepresentations
When an applicant, knowing it is false, makes a false statement or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact in an effort to obtain benefits, he or she can be charged with a third degree felony. Third degree felony charges can have serious consequences, including up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Furthermore, each time an applicant makes a false statement or fails to disclose a material fact, he or she can be charged with a separate offense. If the Department of Economic Opportunity discovers that an applicant made a false statement, it can disqualify him or her from receiving federal or state benefits beginning the week in which the statement was made and continuing for up to one year. The applicant will also be required to repay any benefits received as a result of the fraudulent activity.
A variety of different statements and misrepresentations could constitute fraud, although the most common include:
- Failing to notify the state of reemployment;
- Receiving unemployment benefits in addition to Social Security payments or workers’ compensation benefits;
- Failing to disclose the reason for unemployment;
- Failing to provide sufficient proof of prior wages; and
- Including false or misleading information about the applicant’s identity.
In many cases, a mistake on an unemployment application form is completely unintentional. Unfortunately, even these individuals can get swept up in a fraud investigation. However, prosecutors cannot obtain a conviction unless they can demonstrate that the defendant made the statement knowing that it was false.
Call Today to Speak to an Experienced White Collar Crime Attorney
Being charged with a fraud-related offense can have far-reaching consequences, so if you live in south Florida and are being investigated for fraudulently obtaining unemployment benefits, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys at 305-670-9919 to schedule a consultation with a dedicated attorney who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options. You can also reach us by initiating a live chat with a member of our legal team or by completing and submitting one of our standard online contact forms.