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Unemployment fraud

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ALawyer

Senior Member
If you fear that a action you committed was criminal and could result in you being sentenced to jail or prison, yet have not been arrested, and have no reason to believe that the police or another law enforcement agency is about to apprehend you, it is almost NEVER a good idea to just "turn yourself in." Why give up all your rights and ability to negotiate?

First, the action you believe committed may not have been criminal, or even if it was, the statute of limitations on the action may have already run, so that were you or your lawyer to point that out you could not be convicted of the crime you believe you committed. Many lawyers have had clients (some of whom have been suffering from mental illness) who are troubled by actions they committed that they believe were criminal yet were not in fact criminal. In addition, frequently lawyers are able to tell clients that a sufficient amount of time has passed since the act was committed so that even if a person were apprehended, and became a criminal defendant, simply by pleading the statute of limitations the court would dismiss any criminal charges.

Going alone and turning oneself into the police is unlikely to be of much help. The police or a prosecutor likely would start to ask questions and once you'd start to talk you'll be far more likely to say things that may incriminate you in further crimes, and things you'd never say if you went in with a lawyer.

Even if you are guilty of a serious crime, and feel you must turn yourself in, speaking to an experienced lawyer first, is in your best interest. Prosecutors are extremely busy and are always looking for plea bargains to reduce their usually extremely busy case loads. They routinely accept a guilty plea to a far lesser offense, with shorter (if any) jail time and fewer long term consequences for the defendant.

If you consult an experienced lawyer he or she will review the facts of the matter and the applicable law and would be far better able than you to present the facts and circumstances to the prosecutor to obtain as favorable as possible a result for you. Even if you are as guilty as sin, your lawyer will likely be able to work out a deal with the prosecutor that results in a plea to a far lesser charge. Even if jail time is warranted, you'd likely get a far shorter potential sentence and/or a more favorable place of incarceration.
 

Worried647

New member
Ohio. DJFS - Department of Jobs and Family Services - Unemployment. All earnings not reported.
I know I have to repay + interest + penalties ..... I think I should just tell them/report myself ..... or just wait for them to send me the overpaid paperwork. I do not want tp go to jail. I have done nothing else -
 

Just Blue

Senior Member
Ohio. DJFS - Department of Jobs and Family Services - Unemployment. All earnings not reported.
I know I have to repay + interest + penalties ..... I think I should just tell them/report myself ..... or just wait for them to send me the overpaid paperwork. I do not want tp go to jail.
Are they aware that you didn't report earnings? Are these earnings under the table?
 

Worried647

New member
I'm not sure how much for sure. 4K or so maybe...... some weeks I worked 1 job, some weeks 2. Never said anytrhing about the 2nd. I don't know why.
I am SCARED. I should have reported it. I know that.
 

Just Blue

Senior Member
I'm not sure how much for sure. 4K or so maybe...... some weeks I worked 1 job, some weeks 2. Never said anytrhing about the 2nd. I don't know why.
I am SCARED. I should have reported it. I know that.
Were these job where you were paid in cash or by paycheck (taxes taken out and such..)?
 

Eekamouse

Senior Member
I'm not sure how much for sure. 4K or so maybe...... some weeks I worked 1 job, some weeks 2. Never said anytrhing about the 2nd. I don't know why.
I am SCARED. I should have reported it. I know that.
Sure you do. You were greedy and dishonest and now you're afraid you'll be caught.
 

cbg

I'm a Northern Girl
Which sounds better to you - to self-report and get the credit for that, or waiting until you are caught (oh, yes, you will be caught - it's only a matter of when) and not getting any credit for being (belatedly) honest?
 

commentator

Senior Member
Okay, at risk of repeating myself over and over and over here, please go to the search function and read some of the previous content on unemployment fraud. Then I'll go ahead and say what I have to say anyhow. I know quite a bit about unemployment fraud, as I worked in the agency for a long time. And while the advice given to you by the poster above about criminal acts, consulting an attorney, etc. would be good advice if you had committed a criminal act, what you have done is not exactly in that category. Yet. It could be. It isn't yet. Let me explain a few things.

We're assuming you're in Ohio, since you use their common term for the agency. But in every state, (U.S. law only) unemployment insurance is just that, an agency of the state which administers a federally regulated program. This program is paid for by the employers, and the taxes are paid quarterly by the businesses, almost every business of any size, based upon the quarterly wage reporting for every employee they have on their payroll. So eventually, the records are collected on all covered work you've done.

Okay, you file a claim, your unemployment is based on wages from your previous employers. They pulled it up from the quarterly reports that your employers submitted while you were working for them. The system told you to begin filing weekly or bi weekly statements to be paid. On these statements, each time you filed one, you said you had not done any work, you had been able and available for work, other basic questions. And you just sort of forgot to mention that you had worked for other jobs, failed to report the money you made that week working at another job.

Do you realize how un-original that is? Do you have any idea how many other stupid and dishonest people think it would be a clever idea to lie about whether you've worked or not, failed to mention a job? Do you think they just take your word for it? Literally thousands and thousands of the thousands and thousands of people filing unemployment claims in the state lie or mis-report their unemployment insurance. But since the agency receives information about every person on every business payroll in the state, and other states are receiving information about employers in their states, no matter where in the country your second employer pays in their unemployment taxes, the wages will show up. Then there are of course your state and federal income tax forms that are cross matched. When you file those, your earnings from all jobs as well as your unemployment insurance benefits show up on them.

The systems cross match constantly. They assume people will lie. You WILL very likely ( I say this with great confidence) be caught if you worked for a covered employer. It's just a matter of time. They don't stop pursuing it quickly. Even if you worked for a private individual under the table, it may very well be caught. They do random checks all the time. People call and report people on the tip lines all the time. Every one of those reports is investigated. What happens is that you receive a threatening formal communication from the agency on the state letterhead. They say they've caught you, that you may be liable for criminal prosecution, and that you are to contact them at this number. (They do not call on the phone and they do not say "The cops have been called and are on their way to your house" That's a phone scam.) The cops have not been called. If the agency criminally prosecuted every one of the people who lie about their unemployment, there would be no room in the jails or in the court system for any of the other crimes committed in your state. The agency will criminally prosecute only a few of the most visible, blatant, uncooperative, organized cases of fraud. They want the publicity, so usually these cases are well reported. But you are certainly not there yet, not in much danger of being there immediately if you call and turn yourself in. TO THE AGENCY, mind you. The police are not remotely interested in you, you have not been criminally prosecuted, nor are you likely to be, though is it always a possibility.

What they are primarily interested in is getting their money back. Since you did this deliberately and for gain, they want their money back, with penalties. As an agency, they have the power to retain your tax refunds, they have the ability to garnish your wages, collect from fees and licenses, etc. They will keep coming after you until they get the money back, or work out some sort of deal with you concerning this situation. If, when you are contacted, you fail to respond, they have to expend more effort to contact you. If when you are contacted by the agency, you lawyer up and shut up (which is good advice in cases where you have been indicted in criminal court) they increase their efforts to get your attention. The harder they have to work, the more likely they are to recommend you for prosecution for criminal fraud.

What you do is call the agency. You can start with the general information number, not the one to file a claim. If you can find such a number, call the fraud unit. Otherwise, ask for it.

You do not go to the police. You have not committed a crime right now. You have committed fraud in an agency program. You need to make it right. You will not be able to wait it out. Avoidance until they contact you will just keep you worrying and stewing a little longer. that's dumb.

You will not be surprising them. They receive a large number of these types of calls. People confess, and it's a good idea, simply avoids getting the scary letter which you will eventually get. I don't know how long it has been since you did this, but if you are still drawing benefits, you need to stop immediately. If you have completed a claim, and are now back to working, you still need to sit down with a calendar and do a ballpark estimate of what weeks you think you were working and committing fraud.

Don't worry, the agency will have the exact records of when you worked and for who, it doesn't work to be anything less than to the best extent you can be as truthful as possible. This was true when you were filing, and it's true now. It's no big deal if you aren't absolutely correct in what you tell them. They can see it exactly. They'll be the ones who decide exactly how overpaid you are and how much you owe the agency. An official overpayment decision will be made, with penalties included.

They'll be quite willing to set you up a repayment plan. There is no extra consideration that having an attorney would get you. There's no negotiation. There is no question of guilt or innocence. They can see exactly what is. They have a set way of dealing with it. But I'm saying that the easier you make it for them, the less likely they are to select you as one of the prosecuted fraudsters. They do not want to hear your apologies, your self recriminations, or how desperately you needed this money. Ho hum. You lied and you cheated. They've heard it all many times before. They just want their money back. Be as polite and pleasant as possible while correcting this error in judgment on your part.

If you set up a repayment program, be sure you do not overpromise them. It is better to set up a smaller plan over a longer time period and do it than to promise a large monthly sum and then default on it. Once again, you want to be the one they don't have trouble with.

If you are truly financially desperate and totally unable to make a repayment at the current time you can ask for a waiver. Many states have them. Your fraud division will be thoroughly knowledgeable about them. If you do apply for one, they will need very detailed financial information to consider this possibility. DO NOT lie to them about this.

There are a lot of people on the internet boards who for some reason will automatically want to tell you when you ask this type of question that you're going to burn in hell, you're going to jail, you're going to lose your children, you need to get a lawyer NOW and clam up, or to discuss this with a criminal defense attorney at once. That's not the case. Right now, from what you say, you have committed a very common, also very stupid and primitive type of agency fraud, which can very likely be set right with the agency only. And the more quickly you set it right, the better off you'll be.
 
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