By Tara Molina

CHICAGO (CBS) — Seniors targeted in an unemployment fraud scheme.

CBS 2 has been tracking these investigations for weeks now. Tara Molina reports how some seniors are  struggling to get the help they need.

Getting through to IDES for help isn’t easy for those who applied for unemployment benefits. Seniors who never applied are dealing with the same thing now.

That’s why a state rep is stepping in to help.

Althea Heisey and her husband among the targeted.

“To target the senior citizens? It’s upsetting,” Heisey said.

Retired for years, they got a card in the mail with more than $10,000 in unemployment benefits on it.  Trying to report the fraud and canceling the card?

“It just rings and rings and rings,” Heisey said.

Cindy Meier dealt with the same headache.

“I just don’t want other people to have to go through this,” Meier said. Eventually, she was able to get through to close the account, but asked why it was so much easier for the scammers to open it.

“It was a very frustrating set of circumstances. I think something could have been done to stop it,” Meier said.

With IDES phone lines overwhelmed already, CBS 2 found a local lawmaker who’s working to circumvent them to help people like Althea and Cindy: Illinois State Representative Anne Stava-Murray.

“We only heard from retirees so far,” Stava-Murray said. “We luckily now have a point person at the speaker’s office, who is coordinating all of our office’s efforts to look into this fraud and make sure people are getting all the information they need and that it’s taken care of right away.”

Because when it comes to communication from IDES…

“We have not heard much, still, from IDES directly,” Stava-Murray said. “We need to be having more proactive conversations about how to make sure these cards aren’t sent out in the first place.”

“They don’t have enough staff to handle what is going on,” Heisey said. “Maybe they need to put more people on because this is going to get worse before it gets better.”

A spokesperson for KeyBank said it’s working with IDES and law enforcement to conduct an investigation into these allegations of fraud right now.

 

Tara Molina