Evan Cater moved into a new home about a month ago. He said he's been receiving dozens of letters every day from the Oregon Employment Department for jobless benefits. The problem: they're not for him.
"We didn’t think much about it; we just put them back in the mailbox and sent them back," said Cater.
But the mail kept coming.
"Then we started getting them in very large stacks," said Cater. " We’d get somewhere between 12 and 25 a day."
At this point, Cater estimates he has received at least 150 pieces of mail for about a dozen other people in the past month.
"At first it was a joke with my family and I. But when you think about it, it’s not funny. This is money people are waiting for. I have a hard time figuring out if it’s fraud or some sort of administrative problem," Cater said.
KATU News contacted the Oregon Employment Department (OED). Since then, an agency spokesperson said the letters were stopped while OED investigates. It could be a situation involving fraud.
There is another side to this, too.
A man named Bill, whose last name KATU News isn't sharing, was laid off from his job of more than two decades recently. When he went to file for unemployment benefits this week, he learned his claim was under a fraud investigation.
"Lo and behold, they confirmed someone tried to file for unemployment under my name. Luckily, no money was paid out, but I have to wait for a fraud investigation," said Bill, who is not sure when he will get unemployment benefits.
States across the country are dealing with an uptick in fraud as criminals target state unemployment systems. States like Washington and California have been hit particularly hard. California has lost at least $11 billion in fraudulent unemployment claims.
According to the Oregon Employment Department, the number of ID theft cases were 10 times higher in 2020 compared to 2019.
If you suspect fraud or are receiving benefits you didn't claim, you can file a fraud report with the Oregon Employment Department.
This story is part of our Following the Money initiative. If you suspect government waste or a lack of accountability, give our Following the Money reporter, Keaton Thomas, a call or write him an email.