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Mass. Received Nearly 59,000 Fraudulent Unemployment Claims Since Pandemic's Start

Massachusetts has received almost 59,000 known fraudulent unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic through June 20 and recovered $158 million in fraudulent claims, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Tuesday.

The fraudulent claims, part of a national criminal scheme, were made using personal information stolen during earlier commercial data breaches, the agency said in an emailed statement.

The state has received more than 1.6 million filings for benefits from March 8 through June 30, the statement said.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance has hired Ernst & Young to conduct a forensic accounting investigation into the fraud scheme.

"Protecting the integrity of the unemployment system and ensuring benefits are only going to valid claimants is the top priority of the Department of Unemployment Assistance," Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that because of this criminal activity, people who really need our support may face delays in receiving the benefits they need."

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