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Unemployment fraud claims hurt Oklahoma businesses

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-27 00:12:47-04

TULSA, Okla. — Lassalle’s New Orleans Deli only has a handful of employees who are struggling just like every other restaurant during this pandemic. But just based on their mail—they’ve received nearly 80 false unemployment claims.

Just how much taxpayer money is being shelled out for these fraudulent claims?

2 Works for You Reporter Tony Russell shows us how much in tonight’s Rebound Green Country.

This downtown Tulsa lunch hot spot serves some of the areas best New Orleans-style food.

Lassalle’s has your po'boys—your muffulettas and even your gumbo.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit—people also think they’re an easy target for fraudulent unemployment claims.

”Fake people. Fake names. I don’t know. Fake socials. The burden lies on us to dispute them,” said Amanda west, Lassalle’s owner.

Since the start of the pandemic—Chris and Amanda West’s mailboxes started to fill up with loads of unemployment claims… nearly 80 of them.

”I’ve had two [unemployment claims] in six years that were legitimate...two,” Amanda said.

So, instead of trying to work on another sandwich order.

"They have the information," Amanda said. "They know these people don’t work for me.”

They’re trying to make sure a Jane or John Doe isn’t getting a free taxpayer funded check from the state of Oklahoma.

OSBI announced a special task force to handle these fraud causes.

READ MORE: OSBI launches task force to combat unemployment fraud

Oklahoma’s Attorney General Mike Hunter said state and federal investigators have been able to stop millions of taxpayer dollars being dished out to fraudulent claim holders.

READ MORE: Attorney General Mike Hunter announces new effort to help fraud victims

"The burden of proof still falls on me," Amanda said. "I still have to do all this work."

Chris added, "The proof shouldn’t be on us. All we should be able to do is honestly, when we get these—mail it in and just return to sender and say, ‘Does not work here’ instead of taking pictures and uploading them to a portal, because that’s what’s crap. That’s what’s taken so much of our time."

So, if you’re a business owner and you get an unemployment claim related to the coronavirus in the mail and you know they’ve never worked for you.

"If you get this in the mail don’t throw it away. Just take care of it," Amanda said. "These are taxpayer dollars. These are our taxes that we’re paying."

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