As unemployment fraud plagues the state, Gov. Kelly says a claim was also filed in her name

Capitol Bureau

This computer screen capture from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s page on Facebook shows her giving the annual State of the State address, Tuesday, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Topeka, Kan. Kelly says that given the recent mob violence in Washington, the state’s leaders must “must commit ourselves to set an example” of working together. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)—As unemployment insurance fraud plagues Kansas’ unemployment system, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said she and her spouse were also victims.

“We both got those letters. They were reported to be from the department of labor, but they weren’t,” Gov. Laura Kelly said during a visit to a vaccine site Friday.

According to the governor, she received a fraudulent unemployment benefit letter in the mail and reported it as fraud on the state’s fraud reporting website. Now, she’s waiting to get a 10-99 tax form from the state.

Fraud is impacting every state’s unemployment system. The state’s unemployment office provided statistics on the nationwide impact of fraud in a meeting with state lawmakers in January. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, unemployment insurance fraud is costing taxpayers $8-26 billion.

Investigators in California estimate the state has paid out $9 billion in unemployment fraud. Many states, including Kansas, are trying to figure out how much was paid out incorrectly.

The state launched a new security system for Kansas’ unemployment website on Tuesday. So far, Jerry Grasso, a spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Labor, reports it has stopped 807,000 fraudulent log-in attempts to the unemployment system.

In an email Friday, Grasso said the state is in the final stages of implementing federal benefit programs, such as PUA and PEUC, by the end of February. He said benefit payments for FPUC started going out last month.

“We met with state labor agencies from around the country yesterday and our implementation timeline matches other states who are using legacy systems. We look forward to getting these program extensions in place so that we can get eligible claimants their benefits. Once these extensions are in place, claimants will get the benefit payments that they are owed to them under the law.”

Kansas Department of Labor

The department has pointed to a handful of other states that are struggling with outdated computer systems, like Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.

Lawmakers are continuing hearings on a proposed bill next week to start development and oversight of the state’s I.T. modernization project, which is set to be completed in 2022.

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