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05/20/2019

L&I Employees Receive Governor’s Awards for Excellence for Saving More Than $10 Million in Potential Loss to UC Fraud

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf awarded the members of the Department of Labor & Industry's (L&I) Unemployment Compensation (UC) Fictitious Employer Fraud Team with Governor's Awards for Excellence in recognition of their work on initiating and developing UC fraud detection services.

"The outstanding work of the UC Fictitious Employer Fraud Team has not only saved the commonwealth more than $10 million in potential loss to fraud, but has also helped to preserve the integrity of the system for all of the employers and claimants who use it," said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. "I commend the team on its progress and achievements in fraud detection within the unemployment compensation system."

The Governor's Awards for Excellence recognize employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. UC Tax Manager Robert Jacobs and nine other L&I employees who developed the services were among 49 employees from eight agencies to receive awards for 2018.

The UC Fictitious Employer Fraud Team includes employees from the department's Office of UC Tax Services, Office of UC Service Centers, Center for Workforce Information & Analysis, and Internal Audits Division.

UC Tax Manager Robert Jacobs was instrumental in the push toward fraud detection, including creating a log of suspicious employer accounts and a resource to report suspicious accounts, and enabling front line staff to dedicate time and resources to fraud detection and prevention.

Team members also developed programs to scan UC systems for threats and suspicious activity. One such program scans new employer registrations and tax information to enable reviewers to find fictitious employers using the system to fraudulently collect UC benefits. Another program identifies UC claimants who fail to inform the department that they currently own or have started a business while filing for UC benefits.

The Fictitious Employer Fraud Team started in 2012 following a discovery of a UC fraud ring of fictitiously filed employers based in Arkansas. In 2013, the team discovered 19 fraudulent employers with 180 employees, resulting in a $2.4 million potential savings to the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund; in 2014, 31 fictitious employers with 216 employees were detected, saving $2.3 million; in 2015, 43 such employers with 243 employees, a savings of $2.3 million; in 2016, 20 employers, with 52 employees listed, and a savings of $381,175; and in 2017, 15 employers were discovered, reporting 84 employees, saving $743,208. In total, the team has saved the commonwealth more than $10 million from fraudulent activity.

The UC Fictitious Employer Team includes: Robert Jacobs; Sean McIntyre, intermittent intake interviewer; Timothy VanCleve, management technician; Lucjan Pelka, UC supervisor; Robert Sabol, intermittent intake interviewer; Pam Keating, chief of Internal Audits Division; Douglas Shamonsky, statistician supervisor; Brian Garrity, UC tax tech supervisor; Jason Reuter, employment security audit & investigation supervisor; and Michael Somishka, employment security audit & investigation supervisor.

For more information on the Governor's Awards for Excellence, visit www.oa.pa.gov/gae. For more information on Unemployment Compensation services, visit www.uc.pa.gov.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Lindsay Bracale or Penny Ickes, 717-787-7530 or dlipress@pa.gov

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