ILLINOIS (WIFR) -- Two-hundred and fifty-thousand people currently receive unemployment benefits from the State of Illinois. Most depend on the cash. But there are some lying about their situation for a free paycheck. And the State knows all about it. That's why the Department of Employment Security quietly made some changes to catch beneficiaries committing fraud.
It took more than luck getting another door to open when the economy practically closed Brad Parvin's career in finance. He took a pay cut. Something he thinks more should absorb before collecting unemployment. A system known for being widely abused.
"From friends of mine, acquaintances of mine in general, in any and every way possible. From only taking part time jobs instead of full time jobs to continue getting unemployment benefits, to continue milking the unemployment system," he says.
"We should be safeguarding taxpayer dollars in any way we can," says IDES Director Jay Rowell.
The State Director of Employment Security is trying to put a stop to such fraud and just launched a new computer system that secretly monitors who's actually looking for work. It's attached to the Joblink website and flags beneficiaries who should be audited. It's one of several methods being used to revoke benefits from people who don't deserve them.
"We've saved taxpayers 220 million dollars since I've been the director of this agency and I'm hoping to get more and more," says Rowell.
In the last two years, almost 28-hundred Stateline resident were ordered to return their unemployment benefits, three-million dollars worth. Most of them, were automatically deducted from tax returns. The biggest reason, they were collecting benefits while receiving a paycheck. They might have also been getting paid in cash or failed a random audit on their efforts finding work. Some feel the State makes it too easy.
"It's pretty hard for you to say I'm going to go take that job that's paying less than what the government is paying right now, you're taking a pay cut being unemployed,” says Parvin.
IDES computers now cross-check data like electronically collecting monthly wage records from employers and searching the National Directory of New Hires. It also helped stop nearly five-million dollars in payments to jail and prison inmates. That includes more than 200 criminals serving time in the Stateline.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan just recently started criminally prosecuting people for unemployment insurance fraud. Twenty people have been indicted. None of them are from our area.