Posted on May 18, 2020 at 9:48 AM
A group of hackers stole the identities of millions of Americans for massive unemployment fraud. The Verge reported that a Nigerian crime syndicate purportedly filed for unemployment benefits using the details of millions of stolen American identities. The US secret service is presently investigating the situation.
The personal information and data of Americans were hacked at a period when millions of Americans are filing for unemployment benefits as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. The hackers took advantage of the lapse in security due to the unprecedented large number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits. As a result, the hacking group was able to infiltrate the unemployment systems in several states in the US.
The sophisticated attack is coming from an international group
On May 16, the New York Times reported there was an evident sophisticated international attack, and the attack could steal millions of dollars meant as unemployment benefits.
According to the report, the hackers used details of Americans they stole several years ago to siphon the funds. The details include the victim’s name, age, and social security number.
The data stolen was presented on behalf of individuals who have not applied for unemployment benefits or been laid off by their employer.
Many states rushed to pay claims when the payment for the unemployment benefits started, as they paid to direct deposit accounts. However, a Washington State agency responsible for managing unemployment claims discovered massive fraud. The agency revealed self-employed individuals also received confirmation paperwork in their mails.
Last week, the US Secret Service sent a memo to the field offices, according to The Verge. The memo stated that a Nigerian-based ring is using a massive database of stolen personnel information, including first responders of the pandemic, school employees, and government personnel.
There were records of similar attacks in Rhode Island, Wyoming, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Florida. However, the US Secret Service stated that Washington State was the main target of the hackers, as evidence from the report clearly shows.
Washington State is the most affected
According to the New York Times, Western Washington University was one of the worst-hit as some workplaces in the school were seriously affected. It was confirmed that the hacking group targeted over 400 of the 2500 employees of the institution. The Washington State embarked on a hiring spree when its hotlines were flooded with phone calls from businesses and people who are asking about the unemployment notification they have received.
Unemployment in different states reaches record levels
Unemployment levels in different states in the US have reached unprecedented highs because of the impact of the lockdown on businesses and organizations. Companies and business organizations are not able to stand the economic hardship, and many of them have embarked on massive retrenchment.
As a result, more than 36 million Americans have been forced out of work. Therefore, there have been millions of unemployment claims and state unemployment offices are overwhelmed with such claims, making it difficult to accommodate all claims.
Scammers take advantage of the present situation
According to the Labor Department, about 22 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last month. However, con artists are taking advantage of the pandemonium of people seeking unemployment benefits. The volume surge, which has surpassed the previous record, has overwhelmed websites and phone lines of unemployment offices around the country.
They have not been able to respond to all these claims timely. As a result, hackers took advantage of the situation to flood their systems with more requests for claims, using details of some Americans stolen from previous hacking incidents. Washington’s unemployment department revealed that between March and April this year, there has been a 27% increase in fraudulent unemployment claims.