Unemployment scam targets Vernon city employees

A number of workers in Vernon have been caught up in a widespread fraud regarding claims for unemployment benefits.

“Often the employees have no idea it is being done,” said Vernon Police Lt. Mickey Allen.

The Vernon Police Department became aware of the issue last fall when several unemployment claims arrived at City Hall, but they were all for workers still employed by the city. Since then, the claims keep trickling in. As of this week there have been eight different employees with the city targeted, including three police officers. Also this week North Texas State Hospital informed the VPD that two of its employees have had attempted unemployment claims filed in their names. At least one other business in town has also caught an attempted bogus claim on a current employee.

When Workforce Texas receives an application for unemployment assistance, they send a form to the last employer seeking confirmation.

Lt. Allen said he has worked with state officials and they believe a federal computer was hacked several years ago, and the perpetrators are using the Covid pandemic as cover, hoping some of the claims seeking confirmation will slip past employers, who may be dealing with furloughs and employee turnover.

“This is a national problem and the Feds are heading up the investigation,” Allen said. “The only one that can catch it is the employer — they have to know the employee. If an employer finds one of these fake cases, contact the Vernon PD and we will add you to the report.”

Lt. Allen also said that if you been the victim of this scam, it could mean your social security number was stolen. He recommends contacting credit reporting agencies to monitor your credit.

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