City of Stow employees, retirees fall victim to unemployment fraud

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal
A Barberton man's 1099 tax form says he received more than $17,000 in unemployment compensation that he never actually applied for or received.

Earlier this year, Stow's finance department received a notification that someone had filed for unemployment compensation. 

Though the individual had at one point worked for the city, they had since retired, and there were several inaccuracies in the filing including a misspelled name and an incorrect home address.

"We immediately knew it was a fraudulent claim," finance director Jim Costello said. 

Since November, the city has seen 35 cases of unemployment fraud, some of whom are current employees and some of whom are not, which are just a few of the hundreds of thousands of cases in Ohio.

More:Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans are victims of unemployment fraud. Here's what to do

Even Gov. Mike DeWine, his wife, Fran, and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted were among the victims of fraudulent claims.

"This is a nationwide problem, and Ohio, for whatever reason, seems to be a good target and we don't know why," Costello said.

He added that when they receive a suspicious notice, his department immediately reports it to the Stow Police Department and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. 

Additionally, he said, victims should call the state line, 833-658-0394 to report any fraud and should also contact their employer and file a report with their local police department. They can also visit https://unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/IdentityTheft/

Earlier this month, Akron Beacon Journal columnist Betty Lin-Fisher reported that more people have recently found out that they were identity theft victims because ODJFS began mailing out the 1099 tax forms, which shows how much a person has claimed in unemployment benefits. 

"When a person files for unemployment, there is typically nothing sent by mail from the state as confirmation. The payment is usually sent by direct deposit or the fraudster could redirect the debit card, if payment was made via a debit card, to another address.  And all correspondence has been by email during the pandemic," she wrote. "So the 1099 form may be the first 'notice' a person finds out anything is wrong."

Akron Beacon Journal reporter Betty Lin-Fisher contributed to this report. Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.