What Is Unemployment Fraud?

Unemployment benefits application form
Unemployment insurance benefits exist for the purpose of protecting suddenly unemployed individuals from financial instability. When someone applies for unemployment benefits, there is a presumption they are doing so with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, there are people throughout the country who will try to game the system. Gaming the system is a phrase that describes the act of committing unemployment fraud.

What is Unemployment Fraud?

If an individual knowing provides false information to their state's unemployment insurance agency for the purpose of securing or extending unemployment benefits, that's the act of committing unemployment fraud.

As a means of clarifying what constitutes unemployment fraud, here's a partial list of the ways people can violate the law:
  • Providing false information on the application (name, address, wage information, etc.)
  • Falsifying the reasons for loss of employment
  • Not reporting offers of employment or returning to work
  • Providing false information related to job search requirements
  • Failure to report circumstances that would impede the ability to work
  • Not reporting other sources of work-related income while receiving unemployment benefits (under the table income)
  • Not reporting the receipt of other sources of income like workmen's comp payments, social security benefits, etc.
  • Assisting another person in the act of committing unemployment fraud

What are the Legal Consequences?

If you were to be charged with allegedly committing unemployment insurance fraud, whether by accident or intentionally, you would be subject to criminal prosecution.

If found guilty and at a minimum, you would be required to repay all amounts you received during the period in question. You would also face the possibility of being disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits for a specified period of time. If the circumstances surrounding your charges were significant, you would be subject to possible fines and imprisonment.

It's worth noting that the penalties for committing unemployment fraud may vary from one state to the next. That matters because providing unemployment insurance is a state function.

With that said, the federal government recently provided U.S. citizens with access to federal unemployment funds due to the COVID19 pandemic. Prosecution of federal unemployment fraud claims will be handled by the federal justice system.

If you are facing charges related to committing alleged unemployment fraud, you need to treat such charges as serious violations of the law. The best way you can protect yourself against false prosecution would be to hire a top-level criminal defense attorney. If you live in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. area, we would be happy to provide you with legal consultation.