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Man Says He Was Victim Of Unemployment Benefit Fraud, Then Had His Benefits Cut Off

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A suburban man who has been out of work since June thought he had successfully navigated the Illinois unemployment system.

But then, his benefits seemed to disappear into thin air.

For months, we have been exposing problems within the state's unemployment system and cases of fraud. This is a case of fraud too, but with a twist – and the victim never saw it coming.

Financially speaking, Chirag Tewar and his family are OK – for now.

"I got through August. I can probably get through the end of September. But then it just gets harder, because you're taking about over – it's going to be two months without any, you know, benefit payment," Tewar said.

In June, the Bartlett accountant lost her job when his company went bankrupt due to COVID-19. He filed and certified for unemployment benefits and got them – for a month, until late July.

After that, instead of going into Tewar's JPMorgan bank account via direct deposit, he logged into his Illinois Department of Employment Security account to see it had been routed to a Wells Fargo account that wasn't even his.

"I don't know how they were able to do the Wells Fargo routing number to the account, but apparently they did it, whoever changed it in the system."

Tewar sent an email to IDES, informing them the account information was changed without his consent and without notification. Wells Fargo could only tell him the money went to a PayPal debit card.

Adding Tewar's frustration, the IDES then informed him he was no longer eligible for benefits, pending an investigation.

"I think that's the most frustrating part is like, you know, how long do I have to go?" Tewar said.

Tewar spoke to an IDES worker once. Now, he is stuck in the twilight zone of the state's agency callback system. He is unable to make the right call because the system won't let him.

"They don't want to help you further, and you're just kind of stuck in a limbo, because you can't do anything," Tewar said.


Kozlov reached out to IDES spokeswoman Rebecca Cisco Wednesday afternoon, asking her specifically about the case and how Tewar's bank account could have been changed in the IDES system.

She responded by saying she was looking into it, but would need some time.

Last month, Gov. JB Pritzker announced there had been more than 120,000 cases of unemployment fraud in Illinois since March.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We'll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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