ALBANY, NY (WENY)-- In August, the Department of Labor uncovered more than $11 million in unemployment insurance fraud, where individuals were earning wages while collecting state funded benefits. 

"These are individuals who took the opportunity to defraud the system during the pandemic when folks were getting benefits as a real lifeline,” said Jacqueline Kagan Dupiche, Director of the Office of Special Investigations for the New York State Department of Labor. 

Investigators start the process of finding these individuals committing fraud through a quarterly cross matching process. At the end of every quarter, the Department of Labor gets a list of wages reported to them. Investigators then cross check that list against those receiving unemployment benefits. 

Kagan Dupiche added that not everyone who receives benefits in the same quarter is doing so fraudulently. Most cases, she said, require further investigation. 

The Department of Labor recently started using new fraud detection technology that helps investigators screen for factors such as the time frame a claimant was working, whether or not they were on leave, and the amount. 

Kagan Dupiche said the new technology gives investigators a better idea of which claimant was more likely to be working while collecting unemployment benefits. 

“It’s important for us to recognize that even these smaller amounts, because they are smaller amounts, it’s just a lot of them. Smaller amounts are still important to fight, to uncover," she said. 

Moving forward, Kagan Dupiche said the Department of Labor will handle repayments with individual claimants through a number of ways including payment plans, an interception of tax refunds, and a diversion of unemployment funds should the claimant become unemployed. 

And in the issue of non-payment, the Department of Labor will coordinate with law enforcement.