LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada's troubled unemployment benefit system is facing new concerns and criticism after multiple people are coming forward with letters that indicate unemployment benefits have been filed and paid for individuals who never filed for assistance.
It seems no one is immune to the struggling economy and unemployment problems plaguing Nevada.
The Nevada Broadcasters Association which represents dozens of radio and television stations across the state, including KTNV 13 Action News, now says they are the victim of a disturbing trend.
On Monday, Lisa Hack, the association's business manager, was opening the mail and discovered something highly suspicious.
"It was a letter notifying us that supposedly myself, Lisa Hack, had applied for unemployment and indicated that I had been laid off from the association in March," explained Hack.
"My heart sank," she added.
Hack has been working continuously throughout the pandemic.
She called the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, or DETR, right away to straighten it out.
"They confirmed that this is going on and there has been an uptick in it recently, these fraudulent claims, in the exact scenario that happened to me," said Hack.
According to Hack, a DETR representative revealed that someone was able to provide her correct date of birth, social security number, place of employment and a date of a supposed lay off.
The claim was paid, in full, on an unemployment debit card.
"It was beyond shocking, I obviously was not laid off and I have never applied for unemployment," said Hack.
"That's thousands and thousands of dollars that they got, thousands and thousands," added Hack.
The same scam appears to be happening to additional people.
"The irony is, I own the business, and yet I received a letter about myself and I did not file a claim," said Marina Nicola, owner of the VOX agency, a public relations firm.
Nicola received a letter on Tuesday indicating someone had filed for and received unemployment benefits using her maiden name.
"I hope there are multiple levels of verification happening when it comes to DETR receiving these claims, I don't know if it's actually happening, but I can only hope that is the case," said Nicola.
13 Investigates contacted DETR about the situation and inquired about a possible hack or data breach which Lisa Hack suspects could be behind the apparent fraud.
A spokesperson released a statement which reads:
"DETR has not experienced any data server breach. We work diligently with our vendor in monitoring our sites and addressing any concerns that may arise. We will share further updates should any issues develop. It is important to note that the entire site remains up and active for filers."
Hack says she filed a police report at the direction of the DETR representative she spoke with on the phone.
Nicola says she plans to file a police report soon.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak told 13 Investigates in a one-on-one interview last week that the system has received thousands of fraudulent claims and investigators are working to track those down while paying legitimate claims as quickly as possible.