Aurora Police Warn Of Unemployment, Fake Check Scams

Laveta Brigham

AURORA, IL — More than a dozen Aurora residents have been targeted by two increasingly popular scams, prompting police to issue a warning to residents.

At least 10 residents have filed reports with the Aurora Police Department after receiving debit cards in the mail to access unemployment benefits they never applied for. Several other residents have lost money after being defrauded while trying to sell items through online marketplaces like Craigslist and OfferUp, police said.

East Aurora Schools To Start Fall Semester With Remote Learning

Unemployment systems throughout the country are being targeted by fraudsters amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Illinois Department of Employment Security officials. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that state officials are working with federal authorities to investigate “the nationwide fraud scheme impacting each state’s federal pandemic unemployment assistance program.”

West Aurora District 129 To Offer Remote, Hybrid Learning Plans

Any resident who receives a debit

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In Picking Up Work Here and There, Many Miss Out on Unemployment Check

Laveta Brigham

Annie Frodeman, who cobbled together work shifts registering emergency patients at a hospital, and as an airport ramp agent, in her airport safety vest near her home outside Burlington, Vt., July 21, 2020. (John Tully/The New York Times)
Annie Frodeman, who cobbled together work shifts registering emergency patients at a hospital, and as an airport ramp agent, in her airport safety vest near her home outside Burlington, Vt., July 21, 2020. (John Tully/The New York Times)

Annie Frodeman often worked 40 hours a week or more — full time by most lights. She just worked them at two jobs.

Four or five mornings a week before the coronavirus outbreak, she worked as an airport ramp agent for Piedmont Airlines in Burlington, Vermont — hoisting bags on and off planes, refilling the water tanks, and sometimes emptying aircraft lavatories — for less than $15 an hour. The rest of the time she signed up for shifts in the emergency room at University of Vermont Medical Center, registering patients for $20 an hour.

While Burlington is expensive, Frodeman said, the two jobs together provided the income and flexibility that she

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Unemployment showdown + Team Draymond gains allies on dentist bill + Assessors speak out on ‘split-roll’

Laveta Brigham

Happy Wednesday! You’ve made it to the middle of the week. Treat yourself by taking a break and reading our latest newsletter.

LATEST ON UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

More than 4 million Californians are paying their bills with help from the special $600 weekly unemployment payments Congress authorized in March as the coronavirus outbreak took hold. That deal expires this week, and lawmakers still are not set on a plan.

Here’s the latest from the team in the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Senate Republicans are seeking to reduce — but not eliminate — unemployment benefits related to the pandemic that are expiring at the end of this month, so that recipients are not making more money from the benefit than they did while working.

Republicans are rallying behind a reduction in the extra federal benefit. One idea under discussion is to lower the $600 weekly benefit to a flat amount. Another proposal

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California unemployment falls, but virus surge likely to reverse job gains

Laveta Brigham

California added 558,200 jobs from mid-May to mid-June and state unemployment fell from 16.4% to 14.9% — but don’t start celebrating yet. The numbers don’t account for the resurgence of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S. and in California in the last half of June or the retreat in plans to reopen the economy. The numbers were released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which slightly revised the earlier jobless figure from 16.3% to 16.4%.

Leisure and hospitality added the most jobs, at 292,500, benefiting from statewide reopenings of bars and dine-in restaurants, according to the California Employment Development Department. As of mid-June, that sector had regained more than a third of job losses from March and April. Construction jobs had the highest percentage gain, clawing back 68% of jobs lost during the pandemic. Government suffered the largest decline in jobs, at 36,300.

But the dial-back is bound

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I wasn’t laid off but COVID-19 cut my hours. Can I get unemployment? Your money questions, answered

Laveta Brigham

It’s hard out there. And, in this time of uncertainty, USA TODAY is working to find answers to your money questions – anything from stimulus checks or unemployment benefits to your 401(k) or retirement plans. You can submit your questions here and read earlier answers below.

We will be updating the Q&A, so check back often. But, also look to these places:

… I thought the CARES Act was supposed to help. I’m losing my entire mortgage payment per month and my hours have decreased, but I don’t qualify for anything, the unemployment office said.

Each state has its own guidelines, according to the Department of Labor, but you may be eligible for unemployment if you:

The CARES Act can support short-term compensation programs where employers reduce hours instead of laying off, and employees receive prorated unemployment benefits. But it depends on your state, according to Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified … Read More

Congress Not Rushing To Prevent Lapse Of Extra $600 Unemployment Benefit

Laveta Brigham

WASHINGTON ― With two weeks until additional unemployment benefits expire, Congress remains at a standstill on another coronavirus package ― and the odds of lawmakers reaching a deal before people start missing payments are seeming increasingly long.

Despite some new consensus that the additional $600 in federal unemployment benefits shouldn’t disappear entirely, Republicans and Democrats are still far apart on an actual deal. Republicans are looking at a number closer to $200, and Democrats are pushing for benefits closer to $500. 

The benefits end on July 31, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that senators won’t start negotiating in earnest until next week, when lawmakers return to the Capitol from recess. McConnell’s top priority for the legislation is protecting schools and businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits — an idea Democratic leaders strongly oppose. 

The timing all but guarantees that even if Congress agrees to preserve benefits, it won’t

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Americans struggle with unemployment delays

Laveta Brigham

For Cocoa, Florida, residents Christine Powell and her fiance, Robert Hammond, the relentless downward economic drag of the past six months has been suffocating.

First, Hammond was put on medical leave in December after he broke his hand. Then, as the 49-year-old landscaper was about to return to his job, the pandemic hit. Hammond applied for unemployment insurance, but he hasn’t received a dime, he said, and no one will answer his or Powell’s repeated calls to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.

“I felt hopeless,” said Powell, 30, a mother of two who works as a supportive living coach at a behavioral health agency. She, too, suffered a wage cut since the start of the pandemic. Her hours were reduced to just 10 per week, and her income keeps her barely above the threshold to qualify for unemployment.

Without enough money to pay their bills, Powell and Hammond had to

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Hackers claimed $158 million in fake unemployment checks by stealing taxpayers’ identities

Laveta Brigham

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About 58,000 fraudulent unemployment claims were discovered in Massachusetts, and actual unemployed people are the one who pay the biggest price.
About 58,000 fraudulent unemployment claims were discovered in Massachusetts, and actual unemployed people are the one who pay the biggest price.

When it comes to online scams, nothing is sacred. Malicious actors will take advantage of the elderly, target people trying to make positive change in the world, and even capitalize on others’ misfortune. It seems like a new scheme is hatched every day. The latest on our radar is the massive unemployment check fraud committed in Massachusetts following an uptick in pandemic-related job loss.

The criminal activity was first detected by the Massachusetts unemployment systems as part of a nationwide scam back in May, according to Massachusetts Live. As of July, the count is 58,000 fraudulent claims and a

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Essential Benefits You Can Receive on Unemployment

Laveta Brigham

The COVID-19 epidemic has taken a booming U.S. economy and ground it to a halt. Within just two weeks, 10 million Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment, dwarfing prior records and pulling the U.S. toward recession. While hopes remain high that the virus can be slowed or stopped and the economy can get back on track, millions of workers need assistance now. If you find yourself in this position, the recent $2 trillion CARES Act may provide some relief. Here’s a list of already-existing benefits that may help you if you find yourself unemployed, in addition to more benefits brought about by the CARES Act.

Last updated: April 12, 2020

1. Unemployment Checks

Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides weekly checks to qualifying workers. You’ll be paid a percentage of your weekly income over the prior 52 weeks. Most states limit the duration of unemployment benefits to

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Unemployment money was a coronavirus lifeline. Scammers grabbed $900K in NC cases.

Laveta Brigham

Federal authorities in Charlotte said Thursday they had seized $80,000 held in bank accounts that they say scammers used to steal unemployment benefits meant to help people survive the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the second such case U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray’s office announced this week. More than $48,000 was seized in that case, authorities said Tuesday.

Court documents say unknown scammers used personal information stolen from identity theft victims in North Carolina’s Western District to apply online for state and federal unemployment benefits, Murray and Reginald DeMatteis, special agent in charge of the Secret Service in Charlotte, said in Thursday’s announcement.

The fraudsters then directed bank account holders to make financial transactions with the money or transfer it to other bank accounts, often overseas. Many of the account holders, referred to in court documents as “money mules,” were involved in online romances with the scammers and didn’t know they were

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