DENVER (KDVR) — The state is criminally charging 17 of the fraudsters that bilked the state of Colorado out of at least $73 million in bogus unemployment claims.
It’s a small slice of the total number of bogus claims filed during the COVID pandemic. Previous FOX31 Problem Solvers reports found the state had flagged up to $1.4 million individual claims as likely frauds. In total, the 17 charges being filed now represent $300,000 in fraudulent payouts.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a release that the 17 criminal fraud charges will be the first of many.
“These are complex cases that take time to develop, and now several cases have been referred to various DAs for prosecution,” Weiser said. “There’s more to come and we’ll continue to work diligently to hold those accountable who seek to cheat the state and engage in identity theft.”
Last year, a state audit found that at least $73 million had been paid in pandemic-era unemployment claims that turned out to be fraudulent. Among other payments, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment paid out $3.9 million on behalf of dead people, $5 million to prison inmates, $18.5 million to people with suspicious bank accounts and $102,000 to people who were not of working age.
In response, the state created the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force last March.
The type of fraud varies. Among the charges the task force is bringing, defendants are accused of inflating their income, impersonating other people, bribery and wire fraud.
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