Inmates Collect Millions In Unemployment Benefits In Philadelphia Jails

02/20/2013 01:45 pm ET

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.

Unemployment fraud flares up around the country. In October, Illinois announced that inmates cashed more than $2 million while Arizona inmates collected more than $1 million.

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