Maryland State Police, labor department warn of unemployment insurance, other scams

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PIKESVILLE — The Maryland Department of State Police and the Maryland Department of Labor are warning the public of an increase in unemployment insurance related fraud cases and other scams being reported in the region.

In recent months, investigators have been contacted regarding a wide variety of schemes targeting individuals, vulnerable populations, charities and local, state and national government agencies.

Most recently, this included a scheme where random citizens received multiple unemployment insurance debit cards that they never applied for from the state and even from other states.

Another recent fraud involved gift cards, which primarily targeted the elderly population. Most often, consumers were told that they needed to purchase gift cards to use as payments for a government agency bill, a ransom, a utility bill, tech support, or to avoid an arrest.

The reasons they presented varied, but they always came back to the idea that a consumer must go to a retail outlet, purchase physical gift cards, and then provide the PIN numbers on the cards to the scam-mer. Reports suggest scammers favored certain brands of gift cards and those changed over time.

Additional trending frauds include ones that target Medicare recipients, lotteries, banks, charities, those seeking COVID-19 vaccinations and ones that claimed were connected to the Census.

Despite the variety of frauds out there, there are simple steps everyone can take to minimize their chances of becoming a victim.

Please be aware of pages and scammers on social media pretending to be the Maryland Department of Labor. Scammers are replicating the Maryland Department of Labor’s social media pages, directly messaging claimants, and attempting to steal their identity by asking for their personal information.

These pages are particularly targeting members of unemployment groups on Facebook.

Fraudulent pages may look similar, but are newly created, do not have a lengthy history of posts, spelled differently (often with typos), and not verified with a blue check mark. “Maryland department of labour” is an example of a fraudulent page that looks similar, but is spelled differently. If you find a fraudulent page, please report it to the social media platform immediately and DO NOT respond to their messages.

If you suspect a fraud, contact your local police department. You may also report unemployment fraud by visiting MDunemployment.com.