RAYMONDVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - It’s a suspected case of identity theft. Parents figured out something was wrong when they got unemployment documents in the mail for their son, who’s deployed with the Air Force. It just didn’t add up and soon they found out they aren’t alone.
Senior Airman Tyler Freiman serves his nation overseas. So his parents in Raymondville were surprised to get a letter from the state Department of Labor in October saying his claim for unemployment benefits was denied.
“At first we thought, well that’s weird. It’s just a mess-up,” said Tyler’s father, Randy Freiman.
And then they got one telling him he could open his claim.
Then came a KeyBank debit card he could use to collect his benefit.
“So all of these are coming on real state documents from New York state and when we called New York state up they verified that, yes in fact, they’re mailing these to us,” said Randy.
Each time, Randy filled out a form at the labor department’s fraud tip web site. But the stuff kept coming.
As soon as Freiman saw his son’s Social Security number on one, he knew it was identity theft.
“First of all you think, ‘Well, it’s your family and you don’t want their finances hurt.’ And then you think, ‘How in the world do we fight this thing when he’s overseas and really can’t even use the telephone to tell us exactly what’s going on or where he is,” said Randy.
Tyler Freiman is not alone. It’s a massive high-tech scheme.
State labor has put out a warning. 7 News asked how much has been stolen, but the state can’t give a specific number.
Officials say new fraud is identified every day and turned over to law enforcement.
“These recoveries can take months, but we are committed to clawing back as much money as we can,” the state said.
The high unemployment caused by the pandemic plays into this as well. It’s created crushing workloads at the Department of Labor. And that has high-tech fraudsters sensing opportunity.
Randy Freiman always figured the KeyBank debit card had been canceled.
Wednesday he called the bank to make sure. He explained the situation. They asked if he wanted it deactivated. He said yes.