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Maine Department of Labor cancels thousands of suspected fraudulent unemployment claims

The labor department said it canceled about 3,500 new claims last week and another 8,400 continuing claims suspected of being fraudulent.

AUGUSTA, Maine — As of June 10, 145,278 people in Maine had filed for unemployment. Most of the claims are as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The vast majority of them—116,000 or roughly 80% of them—have been processed and resulted in payment," Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) Commissioner Laura Fortman said.

But Fortman said fraud is still a big problem. Unemployment fraud is when people file claims under someone else's name, without the real person knowing it. 

She said it takes time for investigators to determine which claims are real and which are fake.

"We were seeing claim numbers that indicated to us that either there was something happening that was unique to the Maine economy or there was a potential for fraud or a combination of both," Fortman said.

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The MDOL said it canceled about 3,500 new claims last week and another 8,400 continuing claims suspected of being fraudulent.

Fortman said as a result, some legitimate claims are being flagged a potentially fraudulent through no fault of the person who filed them.

Anyone with a flagged account must now provide identification that's then verified by law enforcement, which means until their ID checks out, they won't be getting payments.

RELATED: Weeks after fraud issue, some Mainers still aren't receiving unemployment benefits

"One of the challenges during a situation like this is you want to make sure every legitimate person is receiving their benefits as quickly as possible and you also want to make sure that you are not paying people who are criminals," Fortman said.

Fortman said more than 7,000 claims that had been flagged have now been verified and reinstated. She expects the department to complete the remaining verification of emails by the end of the week.

RELATED: 1.5 million more laid-off workers seek US unemployment benefits

RELATED: Labor Commissioner Fortman sends legislative letter updating Maine coronavirus unemployment insurance situation

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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