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Washington AG Recovers Millions in Fraudulent Unemployment Benefits

  • Washington AG Bob Ferguson announced that his office has recovered a total of $18.8 million in funds stolen as a part of a massive fraud perpetuated against the state’s Employment Security Department.
  • According to the AG’s Office, sophisticated fraud rings used identity data harvested from data breaches to steal billions of dollars in unemployment benefits during the pandemic. AG Ferguson recovered the funds – the latest tranche of which is $6.6 million— after subpoenaing 24 banks and credit unions across the country and identifying accounts with indications of fraudulent activity, such as receiving unemployment benefit payments from multiple states, from multiple people, or a mismatch between the identity of the account holder the applicant for benefits.  The AG’s Office recovered all funds that had not yet been withdrawn, and the money will be returned to the state’s Employment Security Department.
  • Though at least 11 other states were also subject to the fraud, AG Ferguson is to date the only state AG to exercise asset forfeiture powers to recover the unemployment funds. His office anticipates additional recoveries from financial institutions in the months ahead.