By Steven Graves

CHICAGO (CBS) —  More than 107,000 people in Illinois lost their jobs last week and filed for unemployment.

That’s up 45% from the week before and the second biggest increase in the country. No surprise, restaurants among the hardest hit industries, along with elementary and secondary school workers.

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There are 341,000 people entangled in some sort of fraud. In many cases, preventing them from getting the money they need. CBS 2’s Steven Graves who spoke to one man who said a mistake by IDES has led to him being accused of fraud.

A local man has dealt with the unemployment system for years. Once the pandemic hit, unimaginable hassles just kept coming. Michael Cunningham has lived in Scottsdale for more than 20 years. But if you asked the Illinois Department of Employment Security, at one point, that was not the case.

“They sent me a letter saying I changed my address. Which I didn’t do,” Cunningham said.

That change put an immediate halt to his unemployment payments.

“And second week in September, they stopped coming,” Cunningham said. The carpenter at McCormick Place has been getting unemployment off and on for 25 years.

“After doing (International Home And) Houseware shows, we would have two weeks off. I would go on unemployment.”

The Chicago Auto Show in February was his final job before the pandemic wiped out his work completely. Documents showed the address error came as IDES evaluated whether he should receive an extra 13 weeks of unemployment because of the pandemic. There is one digit left off from the end of his house number. The last date of work was also wrong.

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When he called to fix the problems, the agency asked for his license and Social Security card.

“I don’t have a computer. So I faxed it, and they said they couldn’t read it,” Cunningham said. He called more times and last week, a letter came with his corrected address and last day of work.

But there was another mistake: The bank account number for direct deposit was also wrong.

“Somebody ain’t checking numbers,” Cunningham said. “They’re saying I’m red flagged. He pretty much told me I have to appeal it. Appeal it ain’t paying my bills.”

Cunningham is now caught in a backlog of bills, working to clear his name with IDES, through no fault of his own.

“They have to get a better system. They’re either trying to save money or something like that or prolonging it before people get it,” Cunningham said.

IDES said it couldn’t comment on specific client cases. Cunningham said IDES called him Thursday once CBS 2 started asking questions. The agency said it will get him backpay and fix his issues.

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