PHOENIX - Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans are collecting unemployment due to the pandemic - and this massive demand has given scammers a window to steal money.
The United States Secret Service says a crime ring has been using stolen Social Security numbers to defraud unemployment in multiple states.
It's already affected more than 50 people in Arizona.
Marisa Folz was confused when her boss asked her why she filed for unemployment, despite still having her job.
"I told them, 'Absolutely not,'" said Folz. "So I knew something was wrong immediately."
Marisa called the Department of Economic Security and asked what address was associated with the unemployment filing.
"It got opened up under another address, so I said, 'It’s 100 percent fraud,'" Folz explained.
A spokesperson for DES confirms Marisa is one of 58 Arizonans who have been victims of a new scam to steal unemployment money.
The FTC says that scammers file for unemployment with a victim's information, and then send the money to a separate account.
It’s not just stealing money from the state - it has large impacts on the victim, too.
"The implication is, if I were to be laid off and that claim got paid out, then I’m in trouble when I go to access benefits, because someone already received it," Folz said.
Marisa says someone opened a bank account the same day the fraudulent unemployment claim was filed.
DES cancelled the claim and the scammer received nothing.
Folz recommends everyone get identity theft protection.
"I can’t imagine how many people have no idea that this just happened to them," said Folz.
DES officials say they are investigating Marisa's case, and anyone who believe this has happened to them should contact the department immediately.
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