HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Mililani resident said he’s the victim of a sophisticated scam that’s targeting unemployment programs around the country.
The man — who spoke to Hawaii News Now using the pseudonym “George” — is a laid off hotel worker who has been collecting unemployment here since May.
But last week, he got a letter notifying him that he was eligible to collect $183 a week in unemployment payments from the state of Rhode Island.
“I was like what is this? I was thinking to myself, I’ve never been to Rhode Island. I’ve never been near this place,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do. My heart sank.”
George, who was laid off in April when the pandemic shutdown Hawaii hotel industry, doesn’t know who could have filed the phony claim in his name.
He worries that it could jeopardize his Hawaii unemployment payments.
“This is the last thing you need right now. You figure no one is going to kick you when you’re down. This is like the worst thing you can do,” he said.
According to the Better Business Bureau, the scammers likely obtained George’s personal information from a previous data breach and used the information to file the fraudulent claim.
The BBB said it’s a growing scam that’s taking millions from unemployment insurance programs around the county — and from unemployed workers who need the money the most.
“This is organized crime. They make big dollars from foreign countries. So it is a big deal,” said Roseann Freitas, Hawaii marketplace manager for the BBB.
The BBB recommends that anyone in George’s predicament to check their financial records for unusual transactions and to place a freeze on their credit report so no one can open an account in their name.
Meanwhile, George said he plans to report the bogus claim to authorities in Rhode Island and the federal government.
[Read a previous report: Hawaii’s strained unemployment system faces a new threat: Scammers]