Federal officials are cracking down on criminals trying to steal benefits intended for those impacted by the pandemic.

Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News (file)

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York is hiring a new prosecutor for a year to focus on schemes to unlawfully obtain unemployment insurance benefits.

Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon says the regional office has seen a torrent of unemployment insurance fraud since the start of pandemic, some of them very complex and involving multiple claims filed in the names of people whose identities have been stolen.

Billions of dollars in funds allocated for Unemployment Insurance benefits for people struggling with joblessness during the pandemic and economic crisis has spurred what officials called a “dramatic spike in UI fraud across the country.”

People can report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721.

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