Press Release: More than $437 Million in Fraudulent Payments Prevented During Pandemic

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For Immediate Release
Date: April 16, 2021
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations -

State Labor Dept: More than $437 Million in Fraudulent Payments Prevented During Pandemic

(DENVER) — Today the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced it has prevented $437.16 million in fraudulent unemployment payments. Identifying and preventing improper and fraudulent payments is a priority for the Department and the entire Unemployment Insurance system nationwide as every state has experienced an unprecedented amount of suspicious activity since the pandemic began. CDLE continues to increase its fraud triggers and implement new, aggressive tactics — including an identity verification requirement — to prevent criminals from collecting undue unemployment benefits.

“While we have a responsibility to pay legitimate claimants as quickly as possible, we also have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the integrity of Colorado’s unemployment fund,” said CDLE Executive Director Joe Barela. “We have been on the forefront of identifying and detecting fraud since last summer, and with the help of our local and national law enforcement agencies, we hope to lead the way in prosecutions as well.”  

CDLE, the Colorado Attorney General, and law enforcement agencies created the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force last month to investigate and prosecute those involved in committing fraud against the state of Colorado and the unemployment insurance system.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Department has confirmed a confirmed total of $19.37 million has been paid in fraudulent benefit payments. 42,976 claims have been determined to be illegitimate, but the Department continues to investigate more than a million suspected fraudulent claims and expects these numbers to continue to increase. In 2019, CDLE encountered less than 90 fraudulent claims the entire year. Because of this unprecedented increase in fraudulent activity and workload, CDLE has implemented dozens of new automated fraud indicators, grown its investigations unit, and is requiring all new and continuing claimants to verify their identities through its trusted and federally-certified technology partner, 

“We understand how frustrating this added step may be for legitimate claimants, and we are doing everything we can to clear any unnecessary holds in the most responsible way,” said CDLE Deputy Executive Director and Chief Communications Officer Cher Haavind. “We are dedicated to making sure we are providing eligible claimants the funds they need to weather the financial impacts of the pandemic, while also fulfilling our duty to protect Colorado’s Unemployment Insurance program from criminals.” 

Claimants preparing to complete the verification process can find tips and how-to videos on the UI Daily Dashboard and If a claimant does not have the appropriate technology to complete the process, they can contact CDLE at 303-536-5615.

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