Inmates in Philadelphia's prison system fraudulently collected $7 million in unemployment benefits while behind bars, according to Philadelphia Daily News' columnist John Baer.
Cons exploited weaknesses in state record-keeping to get paid while they were locked up, despite efforts to tamp down on cheating. In Philly, 1,162 inmates -- or about 13 percent of the city's prison population -- accepted an average of $344 a week for an average of 18 weeks.
It's believed that inmates in county prisons across Pennsylvania bilk the state, according to Baer.
WHP-TV in Harrisburg exposed the fraud last year, prompting state officials to institute reforms that tried to eliminate the fraud.
By checking social security numbers of unemployment applicants against the personal info of prisoners, Pennsylvania saved $6 million in illegitimate jobless payments in January alone, the Morning Call reported.
Prisoners are ineligible for unemployment, because they're not able to look for a real job.
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More than<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/millionaires-unemployment-benefits_n_1931837.html"> 2,000 millionaires took home unemployment</a> benefits in 2009, according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service. That comes to a total of $20.8 million.
Prisoners in a variety of states may be improperly receiving unemployment benefits while serving time. An investigation by Illinois officials in July turned up <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-11/news/ct-met-inmate-unemployment-20120712_1_unemployment-benefits-greg-rivara-inmates">at least 420 inmates</a> taking home unemployment benefits, according to the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>. In Arizona, the state improperly paid prisoners more than<a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/19/arizona-collects-on-improper-payments-to-prisoners/"> $1.1 million in unemployment benefits</a> over a two-year period, according to Fox News. In one case a convicted killer managed to <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=8568004">collect $30,000 in unemployment benefits</a> between 2008 and 2010, the Los Angeles ABC affiliate reports.
Among the people improperly receiving unemployment benefits in New York state are those <a href="http://www.wwnytv.com/news/local/Dead-People-Receive-Unemployment-Checks-164616016.html">who aren't even alive</a>, according to the Associated Press. The state's comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said he's stopped more than $1 million in improper benefits to the dead, undocumented immigrants and working people.
In Maryland, one state worker making $9,700 <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-10-02/news/bs-bz-audit-unemployed-workers-20121002_1_unemployment-benefits-overpayments-auditors">took home $5,800 in unemployment benefits</a> at the same time, according the <em>Baltimore Sun</em>.
Fired Prison Workers
The California Corrections Agency <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2009/mar/31/local/me-prisons31">wrongly paid prison workers</a> that they fired for misconduct $1.3 million in unemployment benefits over two years, the <em>Los Angeles Times</em> reports. Recipients included a prison guard fired after being arrested in a drunken hit-and-run incident and a prison guard involved in a narcotics transaction.
People With Jobs
It may come as no surprise that one of the requirements of receiving unemployment benefits is being unemployed, but in Illinois at least <a href="http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1681146451/Illinois-cracking-down-on-unemployment-fraud">12,000 people wrongly collected</a> unemployment benefits while working, according to the <em>Peoria Journal-Star</em>.
Retired Public Workers
In Massachusetts <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/us-seeks-recoup-billions-unemployment-benefits-paid-error/story?id=15921922&page=2#.UGyUF_mfHll">retired public workers collecting</a> benefits became such a problem that local leaders pushed for statewide reform on the issue, according to ABC News. These retirees were receiving public pensions at the same time.