Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the State of Maryland has uncovered a massive and sophisticated criminal enterprise involving more than 47,500 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in Maryland and totaling over $501 million. The governor was joined for today’s announcement by Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson and Special Agent Derek Pickle from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General (DOL-OIG).
Maryland’s swift and decisive actions to notify federal authorities and expose this illegal scheme helped shed light on related fraudulent criminal activity in other states across the country. The Maryland Department of Labor continues to coordinate on the ongoing investigation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the DOL-OIG.
“Thanks to the efforts of our Labor Department, not only did we identify the fraudulent activity here in Maryland and save the taxpayers half a billion dollars, but we also helped federal authorities uncover related illegal activity in states across the country,” said Governor Hogan. “This criminal enterprise seeking to take advantage of a global pandemic to steal hundreds of millions—perhaps billions—of dollars from taxpayers is despicable. We will continue to work with both the U.S. Attorney and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General on this ongoing investigation, both here in Maryland and in other states across the country, to do whatever it takes to ensure the perpetrators are apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
My office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing to justice fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis by using their stolen personal information to fraudulently attempt to obtain unemployment benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “We are grateful for our partnership with the State of Maryland in stopping unemployment fraud and believe that this joint federal-state partnership will continue to bear fruit. We will continue to work together to prevent this abuse as well as continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of COVID-19 scams and frauds. I urge citizens to remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity or fraudulent use of their personal information.”
“Today’s announcement results from our strong partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the State of Maryland, and demonstrates our joint commitment to combating fraud in the Unemployment Insurance program,” said Derek Pickle, Special Agent-in-Charge, Washington Region, U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General. “The OIG will continue to work closely with our law enforcement and state workforce agency partners to aggressively pursue criminals who choose to enrich themselves without regard for taxpayers and individuals who truly need assistance.”
The Maryland Department of Labor is now reporting the following:
- Over $4.3 billion in CARES Act and regular unemployment insurance benefits payments have been paid out.
- 96.4% of all claims have been successfully processed.
- The proportion of pending cases (3.6%) is below pre-pandemic levels.
COVID-19 UPDATESIn the second part of his press conference, Governor Hogan provided a number of COVID-19 updates to Marylanders. On Tuesday, he met with the Maryland Coronavirus Recovery Team of doctors, public health experts, scientists, business, and labor leaders, and held an emergency meeting of the full Cabinet.
- Bars and Enforcement. The governor continued to stress the importance of local leaders enforcing public health requirements in bars and restaurants. State health officials are strongly advising that young people should avoid crowded bars, house parties, and large gatherings of any kind. Any Marylanders who have engaged in this type of behavior should immediately get tested for COVID-19.
- Out-of-State Travel. State health officials are strongly advising that Marylanders refrain from traveling to areas that are experiencing rapidly escalating numbers. Any Marylander who has traveled to, or is returning from travel out of state, especially from any states that are experiencing spiking numbers should immediately get tested.
- Safer At Home. The governor continues to advise Marylanders to heed all state and local public health guidance:
- All Marylanders are still safer at home, particularly older and more vulnerable populations.
- Employers should continue to encourage telework for their employees whenever possible.
- Marylanders should not use public transportation unless it is absolutely necessary.
- Everyone should continue wearing masks or face coverings in public areas, businesses, and on public transportation.
- Marylanders should continue practicing physical distancing, staying six feet apart when possible, and should avoid all large gatherings.
- Schools. Local jurisdictions continue to submit their proposed reopening plans for Maryland public schools to the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) ahead of the August 14 deadline. MSDE will institute protocols that follow CDC guidance, take into account the input of public health experts, and provide flexibility to local school systems. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon will provide an update to Marylanders next week.
- Testing. While a number of states have experienced testing shortages, Maryland continues to expand its testing capacity, with a strategic stockpile of tests and a long-term strategy. Maryland has more than 220 testing sites available across the state. Visit covidtest.maryland.gov to find a site that is convenient for you.