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I-Team: Texas Paid Out Fraudulent Unemployment Claims Months After They Were Flagged As Fraud

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Since the start of the pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission has tagged more than 373,000 unemployment claims as suspicious.

More than half of those claims were caught and stopped before benefits were paid.

However, the CBS 11 I-Team has discovered some claims are being paid out long after they were flagged for fraud.

"There's a disconnect," said Scott Tims whose identity was used to make a fraudulent unemployment claim. "(TWC) received a fraud notice that should have sent a flag to stop payments but instead there were many weeks for payments."

In September, Tims' employer received a notice from the TWC about an application for unemployment benefits.

Tims said he and his employer immediately contacted TWC to report the fraud.

"I didn't receive anything for a long time so, like a fool, I thought everything was fine," Tims said.

Nearly six months later, Tims received another notice from TWC in the mail. This one said Tims owed more than $7,000 in overpaid unemployment benefits. TWC had flagged Tims account but failed to stop the payments.

Tims said he, once again, called TWC.

"I've been calling for many, many weeks. I've received no contact from any person there what so ever. And yet, these problems are mounting for me. It's on me. It's my problem and I did what I was supposed to do." he said.

In an interview with the CBS 11 I-Team in March, TWC Director Ed Serna said a key to stopping unemployment fraud is for individuals and employers to not ignore notices from the TWC thinking it's only a mistake.

"This is significant. I would urge our customers … don't ignore it," Serna told CBS 11 News.

A TWC spokesperson said 75% of fraud activity is caught and stopped before any money goes out but added sometimes it can take time for accounts to be locked after fraud is reported.

TWC said its investigators are working long hour on a large number of suspected fraud cases.

Due of privacy concerns, TWC said it could not comment directly on why payments continued to be paid for months after Tims' employer reported the fraud.

Meanwhile, Tims recently received another notice from TWC - this one for unpaid tax on unemployment benefits taken out under his name that he never received and reported as fraud six months ago.

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