Several state governments have been targeted by a sophisticated fraud campaign that has likely siphoned millions of dollars in unemployment payments earmarked for the record number of Americans seeking benefits as a result of the pandemic, a new Secret Service memo warns.
According to an internal memo, a group of Nigeria-based criminals have been filing phony unemployment claims in multiple states using a personally identifying information (PII), specifically stolen or compromised Social Security numbers. The information being used was most likely procured through various forms of identity theft and/or known data breaches and compromises.
“It is assumed the fraud ring behind this possesses a substantial PII database to submit the volume of applications observed thus far,” stated the memo.
The fraud campaign comes in the wake of a massive increase in unemployment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. State unemployment offices are vulnerable to this kind of fraud as they scramble to get funds to Americans in need as quickly as possible.
The Secret Service has identified Washington as the primary target of the fraud campaign, but has seen “evidence of attacks in North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Florida,” according to the memo.