WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — More than 550 employees in Worcester, Massachusetts, have been targeted in a nationwide unemployment insurance benefits scam, city officials say.
The scam involves identity thieves using the victims’ personal information to file claims for unemployment benefits.
The city received about 40 fraudulent claims from March to mid-August, Dori Vecchio, the city’s human resources director told The Telegram & Gazette. Since then, more than 500 have come in, she said.
Employees in every department have been targeted. About 100 people who work for the fire department and another 100 who work for the schools have been affected. The city employs about 6,800.
“Several high-ranking officials and elected officials in the city have been compromised,” Vecchio said.
Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda said she has been targeted three times.
Security experts say much of the fraud appears to be committed by scammers using personal information stolen from earlier commercial data breaches or direct attacks on state systems.
The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said between March 8 and June 30, almost 60,000 of 1.6 million unemployment claims were determined to be fraudulent. Information on claims filed since July 1 has not been made public.
The Department of Unemployment Assistance did not say how much has been stolen.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
Massachusetts reported 13 newly confirmed coronavirus deaths and more than 760 newly confirmed cases Monday, pushing the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to more than 9,400 and its confirmed caseload to nearly 137,000.
The seven-day weighted average of positive tests is slightly more than 1%. The true number of cases is likely higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
There were more than 500 people reported hospitalized Monday because of COVID-19, and more than 80 in intensive care units.
The three-day average of the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has climbed to 514, up from 325 about a month ago.
The number of probable or confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported in long-term care facilities has topped 6,200.
Two branches of the New Bedford Free Public Library system and several city offices are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday, according to a statement Monday from Mayor Jonathan Mitchell’s office.
The Lawler and Wilks library branches will be open four hours per day with limited browsing with social distancing, and grab-and-go book pickup.
Three city departments are also scheduled to reopen for limited in-person services. The Health Department, Veterans’ Services Department, and Licensing Board offices will reopen from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays.
Access will be limited, and restrictions including mask wearing and social distancing will be required.
A Marshfield elementary school is moving to all-remote learning for at least two weeks after six positive cases of COVID-19 in the last week.
The district does not have adequate staff to safe safely keep Daniel Webster Elementary open for hybrid learning because so many people who had contact with the positive cases are required to quarantine, Superintendent Jeff Granatino said in a letter to the school community, according to The Patriot Ledger.
It did not appear as if the positive cases originated within the school, he said.