Nearly 90 D.C. city employees were suspended Monday and face potential firing and prosecution for receiving unemployment benefits while holding their city jobs, District officials said. In addition, about 40 former city workers cashed unemployment checks they were not entitled to and also face sanctions. In all, the city estimates it has paid out as much as $800,000 in unemployment benefits to working city employees since 2009.
By holding people accountable, that sends a clear message we’re not tolerating this behavior,” said Lisa Mallory, director of the D.C. Department of Employment Services, which administers the jobless benefits program.
Monday’s action, which follows at least three years of scrutiny from local and federal authorities, represents an unusually broad crackdown on corruption in the District government workforce. The volume of benefits claims has soared alongside the District’s jobless rate, and investigators have taken an increasing interest in how the unemployment program guards against fraud.
Employees accused of wrongdoing worked in various arms of the District government, including the public schools and the D.C. Council staff, according to a high-ranking official to Mayor Vincent C. Gray who was not allowed to speak publicly on the investigation. Some of the employees, Mallory said, received $20,000 or more; others received only a few hundred dollars.
The alleged fraud is not complicated, nor is it uncommon in unemployment insurance programs: Workers apply for checks and receive them legitimately for a time but fail to inform authorities when they go back to work.
“Some are people who come in and out of government and never stopped [receiving unemployment checks]. Some may have worked in parts of an agency where for the summer months you don’t work,” Mallory said. “There are no clear patterns that we can discern. It’s just a matter of certifying you aren’t receiving income when you are receiving income.” Mallory said her department regularly passes cases of suspected “overpayments” fraud to the inspector general for investigation and potential prosecution, but Monday’s crackdown represents an unprecedented review of the city’s 33,000-strong government workforce.
“Our focus is really on trying to deter,” she said. “We want to make sure that individuals who owe this money are actually held accountable for these overpayments.”
The Fraud Dog says this Opportunistic Fraud is often justified in the person’s mind as it is not hurting anyone and after all “It’s really my money, I paid into the system”. This type of detachment from an employer then leaves no guilt, opening the door for the employee to commit fraud, waste and abuse. This fraud hurts us all as we, the tax payers are paying for it.
If you are in need of fraud investigation services, contact Contego Services Group today. Under the leadership of Linda Webb, The Fraud Dog, Contego has the knowledge and expertise to help you resolve your fraud case. Whether it’s mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, workers compensation fraud or any other type of fraudulent activity, Contego and The Fraud Dog will work together to help you and your company. For more information, call 1-855-WE-SWARM today.