LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A company being paid more than $1 million by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation says it is aware of situations where criminals are posing as its employees in order to steal sensitive information.
The revelation comes as some unemployed Nevadans are still waiting to clear up their long-lasting issues stemming from the tidal wave of claims brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic more than 14 months ago.
“March 17, Tuesday, I remember that day very well, 2020, was my last day of work," said Lisa Rhodes.
Rhodes says she has been struggling since losing her job and has navigated through the process to try and obtain both Nevada Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, only to be left wondering if she has fallen victim to a scammer.
Rhodes says she now has a serious concern about who she may have handed her sensitive information to and wants to warn others.
“With ID.me, I can’t get past that process," she explained. "They asked me to take a front and back [photo] of my ID and a selfie. I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do."
"I have not been able to file my weekly claim in over a month and I’m just upset and outraged about this,“ she said.
ID.me was contracted by Nevada officials to try and stem the tide of fraud which clogged the system and forced many claims into an endless cycle of reviews, pending statuses, denials and other limbo.
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“I also have an email from them, misspelled words, I have a voicemail, the guy is very unprofessional," added Rhodes. "All types of red flags."
The verification company, which is handling unemployment fraud troubles in multiple states, admits it has become aware of criminals that are taking advantage of honest people through social media by impersonating ID.me employees and support agents.
The company reveals the criminals are after sensitive information such as social security numbers and dates of birth.
“I know it’s just not me I’m sure there are hundreds and thousands of people going through the same thing," said Rhodes.
A spokesperson says ID.me will only ever interact with people through their official, verified social media pages.
Blake Hall, CEO and founder of ID.me, released the following statement to 13 Investigates:
“Today, we are currently working with 26 states including Nevada to combat unemployment fraud. Nevada DETR partnered with ID.me early to address the massive fraud the unemployment system is experiencing. From June 30 to May 2 alone, we have prevented 1.6 million fraudulent claims in the states we protect. If each claim is valued at $20,000, we have successfully saved states, and taxpayers, more than $32 billion from fraud. Given this and the trends we are seeing, we estimate the U.S. has actually lost more than $200 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims (including UI). When processing PUA claims, we have found the fraud rate as a percent of new gross claims volume is at least 30%. In some of the states we protect, we're seeing fraud rates north of 50%. This doesn’t even include claimants who aren’t eligible for unemployment like prison inmates.
PUA benefits (under the CARES Act) have been targeted by domestic criminals and international crime rings because unemployment fraud is so lucrative. To steal funds, these groups use different tactics like social engineering, tricking people into handing over their identity by pretending to offer them a job or romancing them, or 3-D printed masks to try to defeat ID.me’s selfie check. ID.me has "Face Liveness" technology to defeat these attacks and to stop the fraud. We have found that compared to the federal organizations we serve, state unemployment fraud rates are over 10 times higher. However, we know ID.me has been successful in combatting fraud because dark web "chatter" shows attackers giving up on defeating ID.me and looking for easier ways to defraud the system, such as using mail or attacking neighboring states not using ID.me.
Lastly, we understand these benefits are vital to Americans right now, including those who cannot work due to safety concerns. By using ID.me’s technology, which through our automated process allows claimants to verify their identity in only a few minutes, we can help states get benefits to legitimate claimants safely and efficiently while preventing fraud. We also ensure those traditionally left behind by identity proofing are able to verify their identity through our video chat process. ID.me is the only vendor in the United States that can verify identities via video chat. In states not partnering with ID.me, those who don't have a credit history or a presence in records don’t have an option to verify their identity online.” – Blake Hall, CEO and founder of ID.me