BALTIMORE — Unemployed workers desperate for assistance are falling victim to scammers posing as the Maryland Department of Labor.
Victims report being approached through Facebook unemployment support groups. These groups are made up of thousands of claimants seeking answers to their unemployment questions or a way to contact the department.
Dana and her son have been waiting over a month for their identity verification documents to be reviewed. Recently, her son said he’d be in touch with someone claiming to be with the department.
“My son had called me frantic and said, mom, someone had recommended ... to connect via a link to speak with someone who he thought was the department of unemployment,” said Dana.
The username was @MD_DeptofLabor and the person went by “Mary Anselm.”
“He provided the front and back of his driver’s license, also his Social Security Number,” said Dana. “He happened to be on this particular chat for 45 minutes and at the very end, this fraudster said, well, we can go ahead and get you an interview but you’ll have to pay $120 and instantly, my son knew well that’s not the case.”
Dana has also received Facebook messages from the “Maryland Department of Laborr” requesting her full name, address, and Social Security Number.
“People are desperate to speak with someone so of course, oh my gosh, this could be a breakthrough and so they reach out and by then it’s too late because they’ve divulged the front and back of their ID, their Social Security Number and when they have that who knows what can happen,” Dana said.
We’ve also seen it on WMAR-2 News Facebook posts about unemployment. Someone responded to comments promising extra income through Cash App.
“People have been waiting months. People who have been waiting since the fall, the summer, it’s inexcusable, there’s no excuse for it, none. And the governor gets up and wants to say we’ve paid out 95 percent of claims? I don’t want to hear that,” said Dana.
Dana said she’s still waiting for answers as are thousands of others. In the meantime, she’s making it her mission to find these fake Facebook pages and flag them.
“I’m so glad that you reached out to me when you were on the forum and I truly appreciate it because my heart breaks for people who truly don’t know any better and think that they’re getting a real genuine person and, in fact, they’re getting scammer,” Dana said.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Labor said they're aware of scammers replicating their social media pages, direct messaging claimants, and attempting to steal their identities. These pages are particularly targeting members of unemployment groups on Facebook.
When interacting with the department's social media accounts look for the blue verification check mark, any misspellings, and if you see a fraudulent page, report it to social media platform.
The Department added they will never request payment for assistance through apps like Venmo or Cash App. They won't arrange for interviews over teleconferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. And they do not provide assistance through text message.
For more information on unemployment scams, click here.
If you believe that your information has been used to fraudulently file an unemployment insurance claim, contact the Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Benefit Payment Control Unit by completing a “Request for Investigation of Unemployment Insurance Fraud” form and e-mailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The department has also reached out to Dana to request additional documentation that hadn't been submitted.