Since COVID-19 was first reported in Michigan, approximately 2.1 million people have applied for state and federal benefits, totaling $11.4 billion in benefits.
Over 93% of eligible claimants have received or are approved for benefits, and of the remaining 7% of unpaid claims, most are flagged for suspicion of impostor fraud.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) also announced that it has cleared a majority of the accounts that were flagged for further identity verification due to criminal attacks, including over 200,000 of the 340,000 active claims, with claimants receiving their benefits within days.
In the last week alone, 150,000 active and newly flagged claims have been cleared.
“Our focus remains on getting 100% of eligible Michigan workers 100% of the benefits they deserve. We are using every available resource to verify the identity of legitimate claimants whose payments are held due to increased criminal activity,” said UIA Director Steve Gray.
In May, the U.S. Secret Service issued a national alert regarding an international criminal ring, stating that it could result in a “significant amount of fraud.”
In response, Michigan launched the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force, led by Attorney General Dana Nessel, to identify, locate and prosecute criminals suspected of unemployment fraud.
The UIA developed additional fraud protections, including more identification verification steps, with the agency placing a hold on over 340,000 active accounts.
However, the agency says Michigan’s unemployment system remains under attack.
The UIA has received over 58,000 reports of unemployment identity theft and fraud since March 15, and more than 25,000 since June 1.
In an attempt to limit fraudulent claims, the UIA has increased staffing to over 850 people working on identity verification.