TAMPA, Fla — Alex Kouse is perplexed by what’s happening to his claim in CONNECT.
“The Regions bank information keeps putting itself in here,” he said, in a screenshot video he recorded on his phone.
He hasn’t received his unemployment benefits as of late and has noticed his personal information being replaced by someone else’s.
“I don’t know why, I don’t know how,” he said. “This is my new number now, they put an extension 5454 at the end of it. I keep updating it and it keeps changing almost instantaneously.”
He says after a back and forth, whoever or whatever is changing it on the other end will suddenly stop which makes Kouse believe they’ve given up.
“And then like the other day, one minute before CONNECT shut off at 8 PM, so at 7:59 PM they change the bank account information right before the CONNECT system shuts down so there was nothing I could do,” he said.
Kouse says the ordeal has left him without a place to stay.
“I just can’t believe that somebody can sit on the other end of a computer and feel good about themselves that they’re going to reroute someone else’s payment they so desperately need,” he said. “I just don’t understand how people could just not have a heart. It baffles me.”
Kouse says all of this began after he re-verified himself through ID.Me.
Blake Hall, the CEO of the company says they’ve been able to identify an alarming amount of fraud.
“In every state where we’ve gone back and vetted claimants, the fraud rate has always been north of 50%,” he said.
But because of that, he says the fraudsters have slowed down. He says proof is in screenshots from the dark web where one of the most common phrases relating to unemployment is “No ID.Me” or “Without ID.Me” — Hall says they’re avoiding states that are working with his company.
“They look for the softest spot and when they find it they share that data, they’re literally crowdsourcing the information,” he said.
Hall told ABC Action News a striking trend they’ve seen is street gangs moving from narcotics trafficking into unemployment fraud because it’s more profitable and less risky.
“That’s problematic for a number of reasons mostly because the financial loss tied with unemployment benefits get compounded when it goes to these criminal enterprises that are domestic that are involved in sex trafficking and narcotics trafficking,” he said.
Hall says while he does believe their technology is fighting off the bad guys, ”our job isn’t finished yet. It’s a cat and mouse and we’re gonna keep on them.”
We sent Kouse’s information to the DEO as well as ID.Me to see if they can sort out his claim. Both agencies responded right away with confirmation.