In recent months the Security Operations Center (SOC) at Delaney Computer Services, Inc. has discovered that an alarming number of people have recently received notices from the state about a recent unemployment insurance claim. But wait, you're not unemployed, or you didn't file a claim. You are most likely a victim of a new combination of identity theft and unemployment fraud known as an imposter unemployment insurance claim.
An imposter unemployment insurance claim is an illegitimate unemployment insurance claim illegally filed in your name but without your knowledge or consent. A cybercriminal uses stolen personally identifiable information (PII) to file the unemployment claim and funnel the stolen proceeds into a bank account ultimately controlled by them. It is a toxic mix of identity theft and cyber fraud spawned by the recent, massive increase in the availability of unemployment funds made available by Federal and State Governments amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
A cybercriminal, sometimes part of an online organized crime ring, will target a user they feel is an easy target because of the rich amount of PII readily available on the DarkWeb from previous data breaches, such as the Equifax Breach in 2017 or through social media accounts, computer intrusion, impersonation scams, email PHIshing, or physical theft of data by an insider threat.
With the stolen information, the cybercriminals quickly go to the state's website and file the imposter claim using your name and other stolen personally identifiable information (PII) such as your date of birth and social security number. Most of this information is available to hackers and other cybercriminals from the DarkWeb.
In many cases, there is a very high likelihood that you won't even know about this until you get a letter or notice from the state unemployment benefits office. It is common that your employer is notified of the claim first.
Most unemployment claims are now deposited directly into accounts that the imposter controls due to the fact that they created the imposter unemployment insurance claim, however, in many cases the payments get sent to your account, much to the dismay of the scammer. If this happens to you, the imposters may try to contact you on the telephone, SMS, or by email to attempt to trick you into sending them the funds by either pretending to be from the state agency that issued the funds or maybe a representative of the bank where the deposit account where the money was sent by mistake, this is a money mule scam and if you fall victim to it you will only have more difficulties.