AG Ferguson: Millions in Stolen Unemployment Money Recovered
(Olympia, WA) -- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has announced that he and his office have recovered an additional $9.3-million in stolen unemployment money. Ferguson announced Monday that those perpetuating the fraud had deposited the money into Bank of America accounts. Ferguson says a King County Superior Court judge has now ordered the bank to return those funds to the state.
The case was headed up by the Attorney General's Complex Litigation Division, which as of late, has used Washington State forfeiture laws to successfully recover a total of nearly $34-million that the department says was stolen from the state Employment Security Department, which is the department that handles unemployment benefits.
Ferguson says that marks a distinction between his department and other state's Attorneys General in that he says he is the only one in the country to execute state asset forfeiture powers to get the money back
How Did The Scam Work?
It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that what the Attorney General calls "sophisticated scam rings" used information from data breaches to steal tens of billions of dollars from at least 11 states. That includes Washington State. Ferguson says his office searched for bank accounts the perpetrators had not yet cleaned out and used legal maneuvers to get the money back.
“Our initiative is delivering results for taxpayers,” Ferguson said. “Fraudsters parked this money in accounts with banks and financial institutions all over the country. We’re going directly to those institutions to get it back. We are not slowing down.”