CHICAGO (CBS) — Last year the State of Illinois mailed him the social security numbers of over a dozen strangers. This year, Joe Urbauer may be the canary in the coal mine for a new scam.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security is investigating how his mother was registered as losing her job this month — even though she died almost six years ago.READ MORE: On This Day 15 Years Ago: Bears Top Saints To Win NFC Championship, Advance To Super Bowl
CBS 2’s Chris Tye’s reporting on this last year ended up changing IDES policy.
Six years ago the state issued a death certificate in her name, but last week they sent her notice that a debit card is headed her way for a job she just got laid off from.
“To me it sounds like it’s an inside job, that somebody inside IDES knows how to get around the system and is working the system,” said Joe Urbauer of Alsip.
Last week’s family mail included a letter from IDES about their matriarch, Shirley. The letter says she was laid off for lack of work. And that “a debit card will be issued to you within the next 7 days” for that claim she made Sunday, March 7, 2021.
“Which is impossible because my mother passed away in 2015,” Joe said. “We have a copy of the death certificate from the state of Illinois. They have to have a record of her being deceased.”
Her life – and death – is memorialized in ink on his arm.
But the State of Illinois, which issued her death certificate, is still sending her IDES debit cards.
Today @ 5 @cbschicago: How the state explains the slip up & begin to investigate if its the start of a new kind of scam. pic.twitter.com/L6TQXAjiXS
— Chris Tye (@TVTye) March 22, 2021
An IDES spokesperson told CBS 2 their office does cross match claims against a death file list.
“They’re still going to send her a debit card because she can still get that $300 of unemployment,” Joe said.READ MORE: 'I Missed Him The Whole Time': Chicago Family Grateful As Father Recovers From Shooting, Attempted Carjacking
And they did. The card came despite the family not sending back this request for identity verification. It needs a phone call to activate.
And while Joe won’t be placing that phone call, a judgement call has already been made.
“Somebody’s got a flaw somewhere in their system,” he said.
And Joe knows IDES’ flaws. Last December the same IDES sent him the social security numbers of 14 strangers. He also received debit cards and unemployment letters intended for strangers but addressed to him.
He spent time and treasure trying to flag the flaws to the state.
“I’m just at this point throwing my arms up,” he said.
He’s frustrated both at the scammers that set this in motion and the state that 12 months later can’t stop it.
“Come on people. Somebody inside has to be doing this,” he said. “Because you can’t just not flag a person that has been deceased for 5 and a half years.”MORE NEWS: 1 New York City Police Officer, Suspect Killed In Harlem Shooting
An IDES spokesperson said there is no indication that IDES workers are responsible for this, and allegations like that are very disheartening to hear.