Indiana agencies team up to battle unemployment fraud

The Marion County prosecutor's office is teaming with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to prosecute people suspected of committing unemployment insurance fraud in Indiana.

The two agencies announced the partnership Monday, saying working together should make it easier for the state to investigate those who receive unemployment benefits but aren't entitled to them.

The state will compare unemployment benefit data to a directory of new hires to catch those abusing the system, such as those collecting unemployment benefits after they find work. One deputy prosecutor will deal exclusively with these cases, and the agency will work with the Department of Workforce Development to investigate.

"Any sort of abuse of the system deprives those who are approaching the system in an honest and truthful way," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.

The Department of Workforce Development estimates that fraudulent unemployment claims amounted to $13.1 million in Indiana in 2012.

"Every penny counts," said Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Scott Sanders. "I think it's key that we continue to go after these funds."

Marion County has jurisdiction over all such cases in the state because the workforce development department's server for filing for benefits online is in Indianapolis. Other counties will still have the authority to charge individuals they suspect of committing fraud.

"There are prosecutor's offices around the state that would not have the resources or the manpower to approach these types of cases," Curry said. "If that is the case, we can exercise jurisdiction here (in Marion County)."

Officials said they hope this effort will deter people from committing unemployment fraud. Four people were charged on Friday under the new partnership, and others are under investigation.

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