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News10NBC Investigates: Number of educators caught in UI scam grows

WHECTV
Updated: June 18, 2020 06:24 PM
Created: June 18, 2020 06:19 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y (WHEC) — The number of people getting hit by an unemployment insurance fraud scheme is getting bigger.

And just like we reported Wednesday night, many if not most of the victims work in education.

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Mark Halley was surprised when he got letters from the New York State Department of Labor saying his unemployment insurance claim was approved. 

He wasn't laid off. 

He's not furloughed. 

He never applied for UI. 

But someone did use all his information. 

Brean: "What information of yours in included on that document?"

Mark Halley: "It's got my name address, social security number, my employer, my employer identification number."

It lists his salary too. 

Brean: "Is it down to the cents or is it rounded off?"

Halley: "No, it's to the penny."

Halley works for a construction company. But his wife is a teacher. 

My first investigation showed how many local school employees got ensnared in this scam. 

Here are some of the numbers: 

Greece: 50

East Irondequoit: 10

Batavia: 2

Rush-Henrietta: 1

Now, add 18 victims in the Wayne Central School District. 

The following district report zero cases so far: 

  • Honeoye Falls-Lima
  • East Rochester
  • Pittsford
  • Gates-Chili
  • RCSD
  • Clyde-Savannah
  • Williamson
  • Holley
  • Cal-Mum
  • Pal-Mac

Halley: "The question is how did they get this information and what did they think they would get out of it?"

The Federal Trade Commission webpage asks "Is a scammer getting unemployment benefits in your name?"

The FTC says "The unemployment payments usually are deposited to accounts the imposters control. But sometimes payments get sent to the real person's account, instead. If this happens to you, the imposters may call, text, or email to try to get you to send some or all of the money to them."

Rhett Ticconi is one of a handful of employees at the New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls who got the approval letters. 

Just like Ken Hugh showed us yesterday in Greece, Rhett got a KeyBank debit card with the unemployment benefits. 

Rhett tried to call state labor and that's when he realized the scammers tried to access the claim before he did.

Rhett Ticconi, NY Chiropractic College: "It had said that my PIN number was accessed too many times and the call wasn't going to be put through. So somebody was trying to access and file on my behalf."

State Labor says it's investigating.

Almost every school district I contact is aware of this scam. Not all of them have victims. But I am talking with the teacher's union to try to figure out why educators or their spouses are targeted. 


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