PHOENIX - The unemployment fraud crackdown in Arizona is tightening in December.
Beginning Dec. 5, every person on unemployment in the state will have to prove their identity to continue to collect financial assistance, helping to eliminate fraud.
The state says its efforts so far have stopped tens of thousands of fraudulent cases and saved millions of taxpayer dollars. But, nearly every time they update their efforts against fraud, Arizonans are kicked off unemployment, through not fault for their own.
Eric Elliott with Arizona Preferred Pedal Cab spoke with FOX 10 several times about his unemployment journey.
He was interviewed when the Department of Economic Security confused his unemployment case for fraud. After the report aired, the agency reviewed his account and approved the funds to be disbursed to him.
"I had to go through what’s called a 'human adjudication process' where a human actually looks at all of my paperwork, everything I sent them, and says, 'Yes, he’s eligible for the program. Yes he has provided all of the documents,' and at that time they released the account, paid the back money and everything seemed to be good and that lasted for four weeks," he explained.
Now, again, he's back to no weekly disbursements.
DES has hired a private company, ID.me, to verify claims and prevent fraud. In December, they’re expanding the program and requiring every single one of the hundreds of thousands of claimants to prove their identity with ID.me.
In a statement, DES said in part, “This process will ensure that all of our resources are focused on getting benefits to eligible individuals.”
After two rounds of proving Elliott is a real person and not fraudulent, he says his case is an example of how the program sweeps up non-fraud cases too.
When ID.me first went live in October, DES said it flagged over 40,000 active bank accounts collecting unemployment. They say less than one percent were able to prove they weren’t fraudulent.