A well-organized Nigerian crime ring is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis by committing large-scale fraud against multiple state unemployment insurance programs, with potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a new alert issued by the US Secret Service. The ring has been filing unemployment claims in different states using social security numbers and other personally identifiable information belonging to identity theft victims. Money is being laundered through a large network of “mules” to disperse the funds back to the criminals.
Checks are being deposited into accounts that have no connection to the individual in which the claim is being filed for. As soon as the checks are deposited, the account holder completes the transaction to launder the money elsewhere via person to person transfers, cash withdrawals or even purchase of gift cards. The primary target of these scams include Washington, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Michigan and Florida. However, it is extremely likely other states may be vulnerable and will be targeted.
MemberSource Credit Union advises all members to check their accounts regularly to verify account balances and transactions. If you notice anything suspicious, please contact us immediately at email@example.com or 713.627.4000.
Sources: Credit Union Resources, Inc and Krebs on Security, May 16 2020