01STOCK_POLICE_GENERIC_2

JANESVILLE

The Rock County Sheriff’s Office has seen a handful of cases involving local people who reported that scammers have fraudulently applied for unemployment benefits in their names.

Capt. Mark Thompson said sheriff’s officials have not seen fraud reports on a “large scale,” but there have been some.

In such cases, he said, victims typically get letters from the state Department of Workforce Development that mention an application for unemployment benefits when the victims never applied for the benefits.

If that happens, he advises people to report it to both the department and a local police agency because using another person’s identity is a criminal matter.

Such a case recently surfaced July 2 when a town of Janesville man reported an incident to the sheriff’s office.

Thompson said scammers are taking advantage of the high numbers of people applying for unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Unfortunately, when hard times hit, people try to take advantage of it,” he said.

“I’m sure people see that as an opportunity.”