CHICAGO (WLS) -- Beach Park resident Russell McFeely lost his job in June due to COVID-19, and for weeks relied on his unemployment benefits, which were deposited into his credit union account.
But then, he said the money started going into another account, which wasn't his.
"Double checking that the deposit was in my account this Thursday morning, to make sure I could make our mortgage payment, and it was not deposited," he said. "I found that there was a routing number and an account number for a Wells Fargo account. I know nothing about where my funds had been deposited, and then it was numbness; I don't know what account this is, but it's not mine."
On McFeely's Illinois Department of Employment Security statement, the bank name and bank account number were both changed to a Wells Fargo account.
McFeely wasn't the only one to contact the I-Team about this problem.
"Unbeknownst to me, my banking information was changed, and was changed on the unemployment website to an unknown bank and unknown person that I don't even know. I didn't know it was a San Diego-based bank," Blanca Vasquez said.
Vasquez of Addison went into IDES' system and changed the information back to her own. But she's been luckier than McFeely and many others.
Days later, she received a letter from IDES "voiding" the diverted payment and reinstating it back to her legitimate account.
She doesn't know how any of these changes happened because she has never been able to reach anyone at IDES.
"I just want people to be diligent and just reviewing their banking, their credits, they need to just watch every time you recertify make sure that your, your bank account is what it's supposed to be," Vasquez said.
IDES told the I-Team in a statement:
"If a claimant experiences this type of fraud, we encourage them to call and report it to IDES at 800.814.0513; their call will be returned in the order it was received. Additionally, a claimant should take steps to better secure their password and security questions they've selected and answered as part of the password reset process. It's important to use complex passwords and answers to these questions so that it is much harder for their account to be logged into, and have their information changed, by anyone other than the claimant."If a claimant believes they have experienced this type of fraud, the IDES fraud division will conduct an investigation and payment tracer to determine if benefit payment was sent out or not. If the investigation leads to the conclusion that a person's account information has been changed and payment was diverted elsewhere, payment will be reissued to the affected claimant. However, it is important to note and understand that these investigations can take quite some time to complete due to the need to subpoena banking information from financial institutions.The IDES callback feature has been up and running and working since July 9. Between July 9 and July 29, nearly 135,000 callbacks have been made."
IDES also adding that victims should be prepared to provide a photo ID and a copy of their Social Security Card.
"I was really scared because if it could happen to me. It could happen to anybody," Vasquez said.
If you have been a victim of this or any other unemployment-related problem, report it to IDES.
You can also report the fraud to the Attorney General's office and file a report with your local police department.