With Rising N.C. Jobless Rate Comes Rise In Fraud

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- North Carolina investigators say the rise in unemployment has sparked an increase in the number of people trying to cheat the system.

The Charlotte Observer reports that investigators with the Employment Security Commission found 5,044 fraudulent overpayments worth more than $13.3 million last year, up 13 percent from the year before and 24 percent from 2004.

The state recovered only about half the money last year.

The state estimates it has paid nearly $52.7 million in fraudulent benefit payments during the past five years and recovered $26.5 million.

The fraud schemes could cost even more tax dollars than what's reported because of a shortage of investigators.

State officials say the commission has 22 fraud investigators across the state, the same number as five years ago.

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