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Washington state loses hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment scam

caption: The Washington state government campus in Olympia
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The Washington state government campus in Olympia

Unemployment scammers stole hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington state in recent weeks. That staggering amount was confirmed Thursday by the state employment office.

Washington Employment Security Commissioner Suzi Levine said the state's unemployment payout system is under "coordinated criminal attack.” The scale of it, she calls "jaw dropping" and infuriating.

“At this point, we have tens of thousands of individuals whose stolen information has been used to file fraudulent claims,” she said. “We believe that this translates into hundreds of millions of dollars."

She apologized to people legitimately drawing unemployment because her agency is slowing down weekly payments in order to perform additional fraud controls.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs in Washington during the coronavirus epidemic.

Oregon and Idaho say they haven't seen this same attack. But Levine warns that as Washington tightens the hatches, the fraudsters will turn to other states.

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