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WKYT Investigates: Our own DeAnn Stephens dealing with unemployment insurance fraud

There are currently thousands of Kentuckians with unanswered unemployment claims. Some are...
There are currently thousands of Kentuckians with unanswered unemployment claims. Some are trying to receive benefits. Others are trying to stop benefits from falling into the hands of scammers.(WKYT)
Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 4:55 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Fake unemployment claims are popping up throughout our state.

At least a dozen Kentuckians have called us and talked with us about their problem.

The problem, it turns out, is so widespread, non-Kentuckians are victims of Kentucky’s unemployment fraud.

“Someone in that lovely state of Kentucky opened up an unemployment insurance claim in my name and stole my social security number,” Michelle Joyce said in a voicemail to WKYT.

They are people who have never stepped foot in our state, and they are getting letters that they’re about to get paychecks from our state’s unemployment fund.

Even one of our co-workers at WKYT was a victim.

“I had to report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and there was a site that you go onto and it said because of the high volume of calls and online applications and fraud claims, we’re not sure when we can get back to you,” DeAnn Stephens said. “So, I’m not the only one. This is happening to a lot of people.”

WKYT’s DeAnn Stephens, our Home & About Reporter, is one of the thousands with a fake claim filed in her name.

“I got a text from our GM at WKYT, Jeff Anderson, and it was just a picture of a piece of paper that was sent to him from the Commonwealth of Kentucky Unemployment Office. I went, ‘that has my name, and the last four of my social’, and I thought ‘he’s trying to tell me that somebody’s filed for unemployment for me,’” DeAnn said.

The letter claims her employer, WKYT, shut down last March.

That’s false.

It also claimed DeAnn stopped working.

Wrong again.

She reported the false claim and started contacting creditors.

“Well, I was very irritated as I’m sure anybody would be, and frustrated because the list of items I had to go through to clear my name so to speak took some time,” DeAnn said.

DeAnn did exactly what state leaders recommend.

They estimate more than half of unemployment claims being filed right now are fraudulent and they say they just don’t have the manpower to handle all the claims as fast as they’d like.

State leaders are asking people to file fraud claims online here.

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