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Secretary Jonathan Satter reaches out to Polk County man about potential unemployment benefit fraud

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 19:22:01-04

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Getting money from the DEO has been an on-going challenge for Robert Nobrega.

“I do need this money, I’m trying to pay my bills, the rent,” he said.

He was furloughed from his job near Disney Springs in March. At first, the state denied him benefits but then he was approved. He didn’t start to see money hit his bank account until May. But that good news was fleeting.

“I saw on my connect account that on June 23 there was $190 deposited into my bank account,” he said.

But when he checked it wasn’t there. He says a woman from the DEO told him someone went into his account and changed his banking information. That prompted Nobrega to file a fraud claim on his account.

ABC Action News first told you about Nobrega’s story two weeks ago. It caught the eye of Secretary Jonathan Satter — he is the man in charge of all unemployment claims in the state of Florida. He was so concerned he called Nobrega up himself and left a voicemail to say he was going to take care of this claim personally.

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“I got your number from the local TV station. I wanted to let you know I’m going to look into your case myself,” Satter said, in the voicemail. “Unfortunately, these fraud scenarios are very complicated. Fraud has been a very big problem across the country.”

Satter left that last Friday, July 10. A week later, Nobrega says nothing has changed and he has yet to see the money he’s owed.

He says right now, there are no jobs to be had in Polk County where he lives and according to the latest numbers from the DEO, the unemployment rate in Polk is 14.1% which is 4 percent higher than the state at 10.4%

“Heather you could write a book about this crap that’s going on with me and people, and people would think it was fiction,” Nobrega said. “They would think it’s all fake, but this is really what’s going on in the state!”

Nobrega reported the potential fraud to the Polk County Sheriff's office who confirms a fraud detective is, “awaiting the outcome of a subpoena for additional information.” Nobrega is worried his identity could be compromised next.

“It’s really scary that someone could take out loans whether it’s on a car or house or whatever it may be, I don’t know,” he said.

The DEO tells ABC Action News Friday, it is still actively working on Nobrega’s claim.