Friday, August 19, 2011

Man Collected Unemployment Benefits And Tax Refunds For Dead Persons

We've all heard of dead people voting, particularly in Chicago, but in Indiana, they're also drawing unemployment benefits and tax refunds. According to an indictment brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis, 27-year-old Lorenzo Lipscomb was charged with stealing the identities of dead persons to collect more than $600,000 in tax refunds from the government and another $17,000 in unemployment benefits. The announcement yesterday added the charge of stealing the unemployment benefits to Lipscomb's previous charge for stealing tax refunds:

Lorenzo Lipscomb, 27, was charged with wire fraud on accusations that he received unemployment benefits using the identities of 18 people who were dead, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett's office announced.
The government said Lipscomb used stolen identities to file online for unemployment benefits from January to July 2009. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development sent Lipscomb debit cards valued at about $17,000 before the scheme unraveled, prosecutors said.
Something is really wrong with Indiana's unemployment system if it's that easy to file online for unemployment benefits for dead persons. It looks like that in spite of all the money the state has spent on upgrading its system it still has some holes.


Downtown Indy said...

I imagine it's just as easy to cast votes for those dead people.

Bradley said...

The new unemployment system is and has been a failure; this story, along with the recent story of Keystone RV of Goshen firing 46 workers for supposedly committing fraud during a full year period, perfectly illustrate this new, "modernized" system does not work as it should and is costing Hoosier businesses and taxpayers billions of dollars. The opportunity to commit fraud or scam this system is very high because the Indiana Department of Workforce Development made the decision in 2005 to only have an online filing system.

Many states have online and phone filing systems (and some still allow filing in person). Phone filing systems help reduce possibilities for fraud as you actually have to talk to a person to file the claim in many states' situations; in Indiana, you can go all 92 weeks you can possibly claim without ever once talking to a human. Many claimants have discovered they can get continued benefits every week by completely lying about their work searching because DWD will rarely hold their claim or disqualify them from benefits. Claimants also have been allowed to not be registered with the "job services" (Indiana Career Connect) website, even though state law and DWD policy say they must be registered. The two failures by DWD of allowing bad work searches and claimants not being registered have allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to escape Indiana employers, and in some cases, taxpayers.

The new modernized system with Haverstick Consulting, according to contracts at, now costs over $40 million ($18.1 million more than the original 2005 contract). DWD announced the other day at the UI Board meeting that the latest go-live date for the system, Labor Day, has been yet-again moved back -- this time to October, 3 1/2 years after the original March 2008 original completion date.