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(INDIANAPOLIS) — The double-digit unemployment brought on by the pandemic has created an oppportunity for fraud artists.

The Department of Workforce Development publicly flagged a nearly 30% jump in weekly

unemployment claims at the end of June as potentially exaggerated due to fraud. There have been two more similar weekly increases since.

Unemployment claims skyrocketed when Indiana went into lockdown in March, then redoubled the

following week. DWD chief of staff Josh Richardson says the economy is still volatile, and even a 15% increase in jobless claims last week isn’t necessarily out of line on its face. But he says jumps

twice that size, representing more than 100,000 new claims in three weeks, are suspicious.

Richardson says DWD and its equivalents in other states always see some fraudulent claims, but says

they’re typically isolated incidents of people trying to continue drawing a check after returning to work. Particularly with the federal increase in benefits which expired Friday, Richardson says, states are now seeing organized efforts to harvest stolen identities and use that information to file claims in bulk.

Richardson says most legitimate claims still get processed in three weeks, but some have been delayed while the state tries to weed out phony ones.

No criminal charges have been announced, and Richardson says there aren’t any numbers available on how many claims have been denied.

Indiana’s unemployment rate declined in June to 11.2%, from 12.3% the month before.