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NJ woman who was victim of unemployment fraud says she now can’t get her benefits

Another round of COVID-19 stimulus money will bring some relief to those who are still out of work in New Jersey. But it is expected to bring about another wave of fraud as well.

News 12 Staff

Mar 2, 2021, 3:40 AM

Updated 1,207 days ago

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Another round of COVID-19 stimulus money will bring some relief to those who are still out of work in New Jersey. But it is expected to bring about another wave of fraud as well.
Two million people lost their jobs in New Jersey over the last year. And for some, it was only the beginning.
Emma Peterson seemed to be the victim of fraud. She says that she got a letter from the state in September stating that her unemployment claim was received. But she never actually filed a claim because she still had a job in retail.
“And I said, ‘OK, that’s kind of weird because I’m still working.’ I kind of was worried, but not really. I thought maybe my work had made a mistake,” Peterson says.
But Peterson says that she then became worried. Two months later she lost her job and tried to file an unemployment claim for real.
“Little did I know what would happen, so that ever since then, because they did that, I can’t open a claim online,” she says.
Peterson says that she can’t reach anyone at the state Department of Labor. She has tried for four months and has not received any unemployment benefits.
The federal government says that unemployment fraud has run rampant during the pandemic, with identities stolen from the dead or from people in prison. Some $60 billion in unemployment benefits were wrongly paid out nationwide.
State officials say that New Jersey has blocked $2.5 billion in fraud claims. But by its own admission, the Department of Labor says that it is then supposed to help open a legitimate claim. But Peterson says that she is still waiting.
“I’m at the point where I don’t even know if they know I need unemployment, because how would they know? They only know about my fraud part,” she says.
Desperate for help, Peterson has turned to Facebook groups for tips on how to reach the Department of Labor. She says that this is when she nearly became a victim of fraud again.
“My number was on Facebook and I had somebody saying, ‘Oh, I’m officer ‘so-and-so’ and I know you had a fraud claim out and this is what I’m going to do to help you. I just need to prove that it’s you,’” Peterson says.
Peterson says didn’t fall for the fraud this time. Her mortgage has been on hold for six months, which has saved her home. Peterson says that she does not know when to expect unemployment benefits, or when she will find another job.


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