State News

Unemployment fraud shuts down portal

A massive surge of fraudulent activity has struck the Vermont Department of Labor. The department announced Friday, April 30, that it had shut down its online portal for filing unemployment claims last Wednesday after finding that up to 90% of entries coming through that system were fraudulent.

Fraud has been a persistent problem during the pandemic. Labor Commissioner Michael Harrington estimated Monday that fraudulent claims during the pandemic range somewhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

On Wednesday, the day the department deactivated the portal, 1,700 new claims entered the department’s system, according to Harrington. That number was down to 159 people who called to file claims on Thursday and 154 on Friday. Harrington said he’s not sure when the system will go back online.

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