Public Notices and Press Releases

New Jersey Cracks Down on Unemployment Fraud, Charges 20 Individuals Across 10 Counties

Over $1.1 Million Allegedly Stolen from State's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in Multi-Month Investigation

In a significant crackdown on unemployment fraud, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) announced the culmination of a multi-month investigation into unemployment fraud in New Jersey. This rigorous effort has led to charges against 20 individuals suspected of collectively defrauding over $1.1 million from New Jersey's unemployment insurance trust fund.

These cases emerged from collaborative investigations undertaken by the DCJ Worker Protection and Fair Labor Enforcement Unit and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General. 

Over two months, the DCJ charged individuals allegedly involved in unlawfully collecting state and federal unemployment benefits, with some cases involving identity theft to receive benefits in another person's name illicitly.

The charged defendants are accused of fraudulent activities ranging from thefts of $13,000 to nearly $100,000 each. While each case pertains to individual actions, together, they are suspected of unlawfully acquiring over $1.1 million in unemployment benefits, highlighting a significant breach in the system designed to aid residents during periods of unemployment.

Attorney General Platkin emphasized the detrimental impact of unemployment insurance fraud on taxpayers and legitimately unemployed individuals who depend on these funds. 

"Unemployment insurance fraud directly affects taxpayers in New Jersey, as well as those who rely on this program during times of need,” stated Platkin.

Among the defendants, three face second-degree charges of theft by deception, with the remaining individuals charged with third-degree theft by deception. Two of these defendants also face charges for third-degree theft of identity and/or third-degree tampering with public records, underscoring the diverse methods employed in the fraudulent activities. The defendants are distributed across 10 counties, reflecting the widespread nature of these offenses.

It is crucial to note that these charges are accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (NJDOL) continues to employ various tools to prevent and recover fraudulent payments, making routine criminal referrals to the Division of Criminal Justice as part of its fraud prevention strategy.

Convictions for these offenses carry severe penalties, with third-degree offenses potentially leading to three to five years in prison and fines up to $15,000, and second-degree offenses could result in five to 10 years of imprisonment and fines up to $150,000. 

The potential sentences highlight the gravity with which New Jersey approaches unemployment fraud, aiming to safeguard the integrity of its unemployment insurance program. 

Deputy Attorneys General Jacob Brown and Gezim Bajrami are leading the prosecution of these cases, signifying the state's commitment to addressing and rectifying these fraudulent activities.

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