The Arizona Department of Economic Security has created a task force to deal with a rising number of fraud cases stemming from unemployment claims.

A new law enforcement task force was announced Friday by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, which is working to reduce the growing number of fraud and identity theft cases related to unemployment claims.

These latest steps were undertaken because Arizona continues to see “an extraordinary number of fraudulent claims,” DES reported Friday. Currently, criminals are inputting randomly selected, in-state addresses to bypass fraud identifiers used during the claims process.

The new task force involves the DES Office of the Inspector General along with federal, state and local agencies, including the state’s Department of Public Safety, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to investigate large-scale, organized unemployment insurance fraud.

In some instances, Arizona residents have received notices and unemployment benefit cards at their address in the names of people who do not live there. In most cases, DES reports being able to block the fraud.

The Department has received over 660,000 new pandemic unemployment insurance claims in the last two weeks alone, indicating a high number of fraudulent claims being filed.

Since March, DES has issued over $11.4 billion in assistance to 1.6 million claimants.

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