UPDATE: Beshear calls scam first reported by WTVQ ‘major cyber criminals’

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UPDATE POSTED 11 A.M. FEB. 17, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear says the kind of unemployment fraud WTVQ ABC 36 News first reported last week is showing up across the country and in states other than Kentucky.

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“It’s just widespread fraud,” Beshear said when asked about a case in Colorado similar to one WTVQ reported on a man in Mississippi.

In the Colorado and other cases, Beshear said checks weren’t being sent and money wasn’t being paid, unlike the case reported by WTVQ.

“These letters are showing up throughout the country, these are pretty sophisticated scammers,” the governor continued. “Several other states are seeing the same thing happen to their unemployment systems. These are major cyber criminals.”

Beshear said state and federal authorities are involved in the investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY  POSTED FEB. 10, 2021

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – There are a lot of people in Kentucky asking for help getting their unemployment benefits, but one Mississippi man says someone has helped themselves to his identity and has been using it to collect Kentucky unemployment benefits.

“I’ve lived in Mississippi with my wife and kids for the last 16 years,” Eric Kump said.

And he said he’s never lived in Kentucky, so imagine his surprise when unemployment checks from the state starting showing up in his P.O. Box.

“Got two of them. With that, I get a letter that says, ‘hey, your direct deposit didn’t go through, so we sent you a check,’” Kump said.

He then got more letters saying the problem was fixed and the direct deposits can go through. However, no money entered his bank account, so Kump knew not only was the Unemployment Office mistaken, someone was gaming the system using his name.

He decided to make some calls to the Unemployment Office.

“When you call that number, it says our queue is full, call again later,” Kump said. “You can’t leave a message. You can’t do anything. Just click.”

Kump says he also called the Attorney General’s Office, filled out a scam report online, even researched identity theft, and still had no luck.

“I’m doing everything they’re asking me to do but nobody’s calling me back and obviously somebody’s still getting money,” Kump said.

After speaking with WTVQ, he got a call back.

Kump said he thinks the problem might be connected to the fact his W-2 was processed with a Kentucky firm last year, but it said there’s been no data breach on its end.

As auditor at his company back home, Kump says he sees holes in the unemployment system in Kentucky.

“We try to make it easy for people to sign up for just anything in general, but we always take this approach that nobody’s going to scam the system.”

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Bobbi McSwine joined the ABC 36 News Team in March 2020. She started as a Web Content Producer in November 2019. She was born and raised in Chicago, IL, known to many as the “Windy City.” She studied journalism at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. While in school, she had a number of internships ranging from Free Spirit Media, ABC 7 Chicago and Illinois Public Media. She fell in love with writing in high school and paired that with a newfound passion for storytelling in college. She misses her hometown, but she loves the horses and rich history in Lexington. When she’s not working, she’s probably listening to music or binge-watching Netflix. She’s always looking to get to know more people in Central Kentucky, so feel free to shoot her a message on Facebook @BobbiWTVQ, follow her on Twitter @McSwineB_News, or send her an email at bmcswine@wtvq.com.