CHICAGO (CBS) — There is a looming deadline for some people getting unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Saturday, the checks end for nearly 453,000 people in Illinois — many who work freelance or are self-employed or have exhausted federal unemployment.
But CBS 2 has learned fraudsters are still hard at work. CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek is Working for Chicago, and out with a warning to make sure you don’t get taken.READ MORE: 5 Killed, 39 Wounded In Weekend Shootings Across Chicago
As these federal programs are winding down, the Illinois Department of Employment Services is warning people to be on the lookout for suspicious texts and emails because scammers are once again on the prowl.
Take Herb Junge and his wife Georgette. Georgette didn’t want to go on camera, but Herb says their two-month IDES headache began with two letters saying Georgette wasn’t eligible for benefits.
“I didn’t think nothing of it, but then all of a sudden we got an approval letter,” he said.
It was an approval letter for benefits Georgette hadn’t applied for and didn’t need. But that wasn’t it. A debit card showed up and a letter requesting an interview because of a question regarding eligibility.
“There was a number they were going to call for an interview for the card, and I called the number and it was actually an answering machine for a girl named Trisha,” Herb said.
He said they filed a police report, called the debit card company and reported the issue to IDES, which he says took a few attempts.READ MORE: Man Shot, Critically Wounded In Car Downtown
“It’s a big hassle, but it’s worth it,” he said.
Susan Winstead still finds herself squarely in the middle of her scam.
“I found out somebody had changed the deposit information to another account that’s not my account,” she said.
The military veteran said she’s been receiving unemployment benefits since January without issue. But now the money has been rerouted to a Wells Fargo account she doesn’t have access to. She called IDES, which told her she has to fill out an affidavit that will be delivered by mail. Wells Fargo can’t do anything without direction from IDES. So Winstead is left waiting, with her unemployment money unreachable.
“When you’re trying to find a job, which is a full-time job, and then trying to deal with this and pay bills and all that stuff, it is very, very stressful,” she said.
Waiting on response from IDES about these cases and whether this kind of fraud is widespread.
CBS 2 did reach out to IDES about these cases and just how widespread these scams are but is still waiting on a response.MORE NEWS: One Person Rushed To Hospital After Multi-Vehicle Crash On Edens Expressway
People who think they might be a victim of a scam are supposed to report the scam or fraud through the IDES website or by making a call, but that’s not always an easy process.