Pittsburg State University impacted by fraudulent unemployment claims

University officials say things are getting better

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The State of Kansas is making changes to its unemployment benefits site to stop fraudulent unemployment claims from being filed. Before those changes, several hundred million dollars were paid out to scammers, and a number of places across the state, including Pittsburg State University, were impacted by the false claims. We spoke with Pitt State’s H.R. Director about how they found out and what they did.

The week of May 17th, 2020, Pittsburg State University has a claim filed for unemployment. PSU’s Director of Human Resources, Lori Scott Dreiling, says more began to come in. “They came in trickling at the beginning and then started pouring in September, October, November was our biggest month, with, actually I know the number, 115 individual claims for Pitt State faculty and staff in November.”

As the claims came in, Dreiling says they knew right away, something wasn’t right. “So we knew they were fraudulent, because we had no one on layoff or furlough ever during the pandemic.”

They had to contact each employee that had supposedly filed a claim, then, they told the employee, they were the victim of fraud. “We gave them what was called an ‘Unemployment Insurance Fraud Guide.”

The State of Kansas ultimately took the unemployment benefits site offline so it could be revamped. “The State of Kansas initiated a two-tiered technology software the first week in February, and we have only had, I think we had 7 cases in February and none since February 17th.”

According to the Kansas Department of Labor, since the extra security was implemented, it’s blocked nearly seven million bots and fraudulent login attempts to the system. As for money that was paid to the scammers, that’s being handled at the federal level, but for the university…”Our quarterly statements are clear, meaning that no money was paid out and we’re not going to have to deal with reimbursements or anything like that, so that’s good news.”

Dreiling says the university learned a lot from this process and while she’s hopeful they don’t have to deal with fraudulent claims in the future, they’re prepared if it happens again.