Nearly 20 Kentucky state workers allegedly collected more than $54K in faked unemployment claims

Published 4:46 pm Friday, April 16, 2021

At least 19 Kentucky state workers received thousands of dollars of unemployment aid while still on the job, according to a state inspector general report.

The report found that from April to May of 2020, the unemployment workers employees knew that as full-time workers, they would not qualify for UI benefits, but filed false claims anyway, collecting more than $54,000.

Some workers used their access to circumvent the ability of the UI systems to detect the existence of a full time job. They also removed “stops” on claims to obtain payment and manipulated the claims of coworkers, family or friends.

Kentucky’s unemployment system received a record-setting amount of claims for jobless assistance last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system was recently relaunched in April after a four-day cyber maintenance-related shut down. All active unemployment claimants had to re register their accounts and set up new 12-character passwords, due to hacking concerns.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday he ordered the investigation after receiving reports that “some employees might have been getting on the systems themselves to process their own unemployment claims.”

Several of the employees have been fired, Beshear said, adding that the employees’ actions could be subject to criminal prosecution, but will leave it up to local prosecutors on whether to press charges.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “Sadly, in any place that there is where there are dollars and there’s access, you sometimes see these things. It’s how we respond to it that I hope builds trust amongst Kentuckians.”

The report has not been released to the public, and was obtained by The Associated Press through the Kentucky Open Records Act.