By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Department of Employment Security and Attorney General Kwame Raoul have now partnered with the FBI to form a task force to work against unemployment fraud.

CBS 2 has reported extensively on unemployment fraud, scammers stealing identities and snatching benefits from jobless workers who need them the most. Workers in the so-called gig economy, such as ride share drivers, have faced unique challenges because of their non-traditional job status.

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IDES, the attorney general’s office and the FBI have formed the Task Force on Unemployment Insurance Benefits Fraud, which will allow state and federal agencies to share information to help investigate and prosecute these crimes. The task force will allow state and federal resources to be deployed on a large scale, according to a release from Raoul’s office.

The task force will also include the Illinois State Police, The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, the Illinois Department of Revenue, the Internal Revenue Service and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association.

“Bad actors have taken advantage of a global pandemic that has pushed desperate people to unemployment insurance agencies for economic relief,” IDES Acting Director Kristin Richards said. “IDES remains committed to detecting and shutting these claims down and will continue to support law enforcement’s efforts to find the fraudsters behind these crimes.”

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According to IDES, the increase in identity theft unemployment fraud “can likely be attributed to large corporate data breaches.” They say it is not the result of any state system breaches.

IDES says anyone who has been a victim of unemployment fraud should immediately report it via the IDES website or by calling 800-814-0513.

IDES has stopped more than 350,000 fraudulent claims so far, the release stated.

Information on how to protect yourself from identity theft is available on the Illinois Attorney General’s website or by calling the attorney general’s identity theft hotline at 1-866-999-5630.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff