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Governor claims state blocking billions in unemployment fraud

Posted at 8:23 PM, Jun 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 22:58:26-04

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Fraud. According to Florida leaders, that's why many of you are having to verify your unemployment claims through this company "ID.me."

And it's a word that a representative for the company, Pete Eskew, doubled down on last month when he spoke to FOX 4 about issues people are having with their platform.

"So I just want to confirm. You're saying that a third of every person that's at least coming through the state of Florida is not who they claim to be when they go through your system?" asked FOX 4 Reporter Rochelle Alleyne.

"When we talk about fraud we speak about it in a national context," said Pete Eskew.

But despite our best efforts, we couldn't seem to pin down what the fraud numbers are in our state.

"We'll defer to the state to provide those analytics," said Eskew

The company encouraged FOX 4 to speak to the state. And when we asked, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) told me they couldn't provide the numbers, because they were still investigating.

But while speaking to reporters Thursday, Governor Ron Desantis did put a number out there.

"We probably had $10-20 billion [dollars] in attempted fraud in just the unemployment stuff," he said.

He also claimed that in January alone, ID.me was able to help Florida block a billion dollars in fraudulent claims.

And while the governor did acknowledge that there are flaws in the system, he also told journalists that the unemployment system is working faster than ever.

Are there Floridians who are just getting caught up? What happens is if someone says they're unemployed and an employer contests it, there's a process we want to get that process going quicker and some of these things have served as roadblocks," he said, "If everything lines us the money is actually going out quicker today than before COVID."

But according to the hundreds of you who have reached out to us, in your case, the system isn't moving quickly.

Many recent messages to FOX 4 show that while folks are finally being verified through ID.me, many of their accounts are still locked by the state DEO.

FOX 4 asked the DEO for more information on the process for unlocking accounts, but all they would tell us is that they are "continuously" unlocking accounts and that it's an automated process.

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