The Ottumwa Courier

Business

April 9, 2014

Iowa Workforce Development fighting unemployment insurance fraud

DES MOINES — Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) has partnered with Pondera Solutions, a Google Enterprise Partner, to help detect and prevent improper unemployment insurance claims and State Unemployment Tax Avoidance (SUTA) schemes by employers. The partnership will further enhance IWD’s abilities to detect fraud early and save millions of dollars for the state of Iowa.

“Over the last three years, the U.S. Department of Labor has placed an enhanced emphasis on fraud detection and prevention at the company and claimant level,” said Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert. “The department pursued a UI Integrity grant opportunity with the U.S. Department of Labor to secure special federal funding specifically for initiating the Pondera Solutions platform.”

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a formal unemployment insurance guidance letter stating the initiation of a "National Effort to Reduce Improper Payments in the UI Program." As a result, IWD secured $550,000 to develop and implement the Google/Pondera Solutions option for Iowa. The Pondera Solutions platform provides IWD’s investigators with an additional tool to investigate potential fraud regarding business scams and benefit payments. Once a potential case is identified and investigated, a hearing is held to provide due process to the party prior to benefits ceasing for an individual or the closure of an employee account.

Unemployment insurance fraud is a serious issue costing states tens of millions a year by individuals filing fraudulent claims and criminals establishing shell companies to file fraudulent claims against. Recently, South Carolina and New Jersey have lost a combined $50 million due to fraudulent claims filed with false social security numbers against pseudo companies established specifically to scam benefit payments. Iowa’s success with the implementation of the Pondera Solutions platform has led states such as California to begin the process of implementing the same product.

Iowa Workforce Development has begun the process of adding additional fraud investigators to the existing team to handle the increased number of cases being detected with the new system.

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