Illinois unemployment IDES debit card fraud a growing concern for police

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Nearly a dozen people contacted the ABC7 I-Team about receiving unemployment benefits even though they never actually applied for unemployment.

They said a debit card just showed up at their home, and they weren't sure if it was junk mail or a hoax. But after calling the number of the back of the card, they learned they could have a big problem on their hands.

Kim Donohue said it's been decades since she filed for unemployment, so she was perplexed when she received a debit card in the mail.

"I was shocked," she said. "What is this? What is happening? I didn't apply for unemployment."

She called KeyBank, the company that administers the cards, and said she was told the Illinois Department of Employment Security instructed them to send her the card.

Somehow all her personal information matched what KeyBank had in their system, except her phone number, which she said they wouldn't give out.

"I did not apply for this card and I feel like I have been a victim of fraud," Donohue said.

Marge Coborn of Elgin said she also received an unemployment debit card in the mail. When she called KeyBank she said she was also told it wasn't a mistake, that IDES had directed them to send it to her, and that it had $9,900 on it.

"This is a mistake, take the money back," she said she told them. "I do not know how this happened or how it occurred."

The Arlington Heights Police Department said it's received nearly 20 similar reports from its residents in just the last four days. They said they've never seen this kind of case before and they're working with IDES to address what appears to be a case of fraud.

Police believe receiving the card indicates the recipients' identities have been compromised, and that opens them up to being the victims of further acts of fraud in the future.

KeyBank said it provides debit cards based on information provided by the state, and if an individual received a card without having applied for benefits, they should contact IDES.

Nine out of the 10 people the I-Team spoke to said they've been unable to reach IDES to find out how and why this has happened, so the I-Team reached out and received a response.

IDES confirmed someone who has not filed for benefits but received a KeyBank debit card or unemployment letter could be the target of fraud.

"IDES is aware there are individuals who see an opportunity to take advantage of a system whose focus is to provide short-term economic relief to those impacted by this crisis. Currently, unemployment systems across the country are dealing with and mitigating fraud of unemployment insurance programs during the COVID-19 pandemic," a spokesperson for the agency said.

The department said it is "working with federal law enforcement authorities to investigate, pursue, and prosecute those who defraud the unemployment insurance system."

IDES said if you receive a debit card in the mail but didn't file an unemployment claim, you should report it to IDES as fraud.

Both women said they have already contacted their local police departments, but are still concerned and confused.

The FBI told the ABC7 I-Team that while they are aware of the alleged fraud, it's still unclear how the crooks plan to gain if the victim has possession of the card.

If you believe you are a victim of this kind of fraud, file a report with your local police department.

For more information, click here.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.