Maryland has reportedly detected over 508,000 new fraudulent unemployment insurance claims since the beginning of last month, according to the state’s Department of Labor, which brings the total number of fraudulent claims to 1.3 million.
“With fraudulent activity rampant in unemployment insurance programs across the country, Maryland has consistently adapted and added new security measures to prevent, detect, and report fraud,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement.
The number of fraudulent claims has spiked over the last few weeks, as the figure peaked for the week ending on June 5 with 190,016. For the week ending on June 12, the data indicated that there were 139,106 false claims.
The department noted that more than ninety-two percent of marked unemployment claims that have been investigated have been reported as fraudulent.
“As the economy recovers and states across the country continue to opt-out of the federal benefits programs, bad actors are becoming more brazen and aggressive in their attempts to exploit unemployment insurance programs than ever before,” Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said in a statement.
Robinson added, “I strongly encourage all Marylanders to remain especially vigilant in the coming weeks to protect themselves against scams and identity theft.”
The data released this week also revealed that the unemployment rate stood at 6.2 percent in April, with roughly 193,000 people in the state filing for unemployment benefits.
The department’s report comes as Hogan announced earlier this month that Maryland would end the $300 weekly unemployment bonuses extended under President Joe Biden’s coronavirus rescue package, starting July 3, a move that follows several other Republican-led states across the U.S., including Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Maryland will also cut off other federal unemployment programs, like the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that sends gig economy workers and the self-employed extra direct aid.
“While these federal programs provided important temporary relief, vaccines and jobs are now in good supply,” Hogan said in a statement earlier this month. “And we have a critical problem where businesses across our state are trying to hire more people, but many are facing severe worker shortages. After 12 consecutive months of job growth, we look forward to getting more Marylanders back to work.”
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill.