Since the start of the pandemic, Maryland has identified 1.3 million fraudulent unemployment claims.

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Since the start of the pandemic, Maryland has identified 1.3 million fraudulent unemployment claims.

According to the Maryland Department of Labor, more than one million false employment claims have been filed in the state since the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the beginning of May, the agency has found over 508,000 fraudulent new unemployment insurance claims, bringing the overall number of false claims to 1.3 million, according to a news release issued Monday.

The figure was described as “astonishing” by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

“With fraudulent conduct common in unemployment insurance systems around the country,” Hogan said in a statement, “Maryland has continuously evolved and adopted additional security measures to prevent, identify, and report fraud.”

In late May and early June, the number of bogus claims filed surged. The week ending June 5 saw the most bogus filings, with 190,016. For the week ending June 12, the most recent statistics available indicated 139,106 bogus claims.

According to the state office, 92.23 percent of the jobless claims identified and reviewed were fake.

Residents should stay careful in protecting themselves from frauds and identity theft, according to Maryland Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson.

“Bad actors are becoming more brazen and aggressive in their attempts to misuse unemployment insurance programs than ever before as the economy recovers and states around the country continue to opt out of federal benefits programs,” Robinson said in a statement.

Before the additional $300 federal unemployment benefit ends in September, dozens of Republican-led states are opting out. Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming joined the increasing list of states this weekend.

Maryland’s $300 weekly benefit will be phased off beginning in early July, according to Hogan. Three other federal programs, including benefits for self-employed or gig workers, will be phased out, and individuals filing for unemployment will be required to show they are actively looking for work.

According to the Maryland Department of Labor’s most recent unemployment figures, 14,233 persons filed initial jobless claims in the week ending June 12.

The unemployment rate stayed at 6.2 percent in April, according to preliminary figures from the government, with 193,112 persons claiming benefits.

“While these federal programs provided critical interim relief, immunizations and jobs are now plentiful,” Hogan said earlier this month in a statement. “And we have a serious problem in our state with businesses.” This is a condensed version of the information.

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