State and federal agencies investigating how a man received 23 fraudulent unemployment debit cards

Posted at 3:28 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 18:47:53-05

BALTIMORE — Several state and federal agencies are investigating how a Maryland worker received 23 fraudulent unemployment debit cards.

Last week, Dr. Keenan Cofield first told WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii that he had received 18 UI debit cards but never applied for benefits. On Tuesday, five more were sent to addresses connected to Cofield, bringing the total to 23 debit cards.

RELATED: "The system is compromised" Maryland man receives 18 unemployment debit cards and never applied for benefits

The debit cards were in other people's names and issued from the Bank of America processing center in Gray, Tennessee.

Cofield thought he had been communicating with a potential investor for several tech projects, but knew it was a scam when he received the unemployment debit cards. Cofield tried delivering them to the Maryland Department of Labor and notifying the Governor’s Office. WMAR-2 News put him in touch with Maryland State Police.

On Wednesday, the Department of Labor confirmed all debit cards sent to Cofield had been blocked as well as claims fraudulent filed in his name using his stolen identity.

The agency is actively investigating this case in coordination with the Maryland State Police, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Maryland, like states across the nation, continues to see bad actors and fraudsters using illegally obtained data to file fraudulent unemployment insurance claims," wrote Fallon Pearre, director of communications for the Maryland Department of Labor.

As of February 23, 447,817 in-state and out-of-state claims have been flagged for fraud since the beginning of the pandemic. Of those claims flagged, 384,651 (85.89%) have been confirmed as being fraudulent.