There are penalties for committing UI Fraud
What happens to people who commit unemployment insurance fraud? Increasingly, UI claimants are handed prison sentences by Utah courts for providing false information to obtain UI benefits they are not entitled to. In Utah it is a third degree felony to make false statements to obtain unemployment insurance benefits. The Department of Workforce Services refers cases on a regular basis to the criminal courts for prosecution. Once fraud is established, an overpayment and penalty are assessed and a disqualification period of up to one year is imposed. Each of the 79 individuals prosecuted in the courts by the Department of Workforce Services in 2011 received a suspended prison or jail sentence and a judgment to repay the overpayment and penalty. The courts also require convicted claimants to perform community service, pay court fines and serve supervised probation. Claimants are prevented from collecting unemployment benefits again until all overpayments and penalties are satisfied in full and the disqualification period has ended.
These cases are only a small portion of the cases prepared for prosecution by DWS. Many cases are settled when payment is made to avoid potential incarceration and a criminal record. Claimants need to understand that the Department will vigorously pursue criminal prosecution when fraud has been committed. The department will also vigorously pursue recovery of benefits obtained by fraud.
The Detection of Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Utah has a full-time fraud detection division to identify and recommend criminal prosecution of those who commit fraud. Currently, the Department employs several methods of detection and is developing new strategies every day to identify claimants who may be receiving unemployment benefits under fraudulent circumstances. Some information sources currently being used to detect fraud are:
- Public tips by telephone, mail or the Internet.
- State and National New Hire data from employers.
- Utah Employer Wage files.
- Claimant Eligibility Reviews and Audits.
- Automated matches with other government records.
- In person and on-site fraud investigations.
- Interstate agreements.
Most of the Departments detection methods rely upon sophisticated automation systems but some still rely upon the efforts of our skilled fraud investigators.