Unemployment Benefits Fraud
Prosecutions for Unemployment Fraud are on the rise in Colorado. Often these cases stem from people who were legitimately getting unemployment benefits but the recipient of the benefits continued to receive unemployment payments after taking a job. Other unemployment cases come from people who are having a hard time making ends meet even with a job, who claim unemployment benefits to bridge the gap between their income and their expenses. In any case, people often consider unemployment fraud to be “victimless” because they are not taking money from an individual.
Suffice it to say, the state of Colorado does not share this “victimless” view of unemployment fraud. These crimes are investigated by the Colorado Department of Labor, and they prosecute these cases aggressively. Often the person who obtained the unemployment benefits receives a call from an employee of the Colorado Department of Labor. The caller asks questions about their employment history, and about benefits received. It is not until after the conversation that the investigator from the Department of Labor tells the person that they are under investigation for unemployment fraud.
Unemployment Fraud Charges
Unemployment fraud is generally charged as a Theft and a Computer Crime. The theft charge is almost always a felony in these cases, and the severity of the felony is based on the dollar amount of improper benefits received. The Computer Crime charge is based on the use of a computer to defraud. This is commonly charged as a Class 5 felony depending on the date of offense. In almost any scenario, if you are charged with an unemployment fraud case, you are looking at significant repercussions including the possibility of jail, prison, a felony record, and probation.
If you are charged with unemployment fraud, not only are you looking at the typical criminal consequences outlined about, but you will be required to pay back the total amount of unlawful benefits plus interest. The interest in these cases can and does skyrocket over time. Depending on the date of the fraud, the interest charged is statutorily either 50% or 65% of the amount of benefits. This makes it even more important that you be proactive in your defense.
At Hebets & McCallin our attorneys have experience handling all aspects of these cases. If you have been charged with unemployment fraud, or if you have been contacted by an investigator from the Colorado Department of Labor, call us, we can help.