‘There are a lot of issues there’ Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says of NYS’s Unemployment system

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When the pandemic hit and the economy was shut down millions of New Yorkers struggled to get unemployment benefits they were entitled to while thousands of others learned their identities had been stolen by scammers who got benefits they weren’t entitled to.

For months, News10NBC has been investigating and exposing issues with the New York State Labor Department’s Unemployment system. The department has refused to put a number on the total number of fraudulent claims it processed and paid but NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also has an in-depth audit underway.

In addition to using the outdated MS-DOS system to process millions of claims at the height of the pandemic, the department also failed to protect itself from imposter fraud which has cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

“There are a lot of issues there,” says Comptroller Tom DiNapoli who spoke with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke.

Comptroller DiNapoli – It was very clear that there were instances of fraud, ripping off the system, people getting money that they weren’t entitled to so, we did some preliminary review. We have more review underway I don’t have a time frame on when that will be completed but we need to learn from the mistakes of the COVID-era.

Jennifer Lewke – Is your audit looking at how much went out the door to scammers?

Comptroller DiNapoli – It’s looking at… sometimes, it’s very hard to put a number on that so, I think it’s really looking at more the process rather than trying to quantify an exact number…they were big problems there that have to be straightened out so that God forbid if we have another emergency situation, the system doesn’t get overwhelmed as it did back then.