WYOMING, Mich. — A Wyoming woman is waiting on weeks of unemployment payments and says the holdup is likely due to fraud.
Someone used a bank in Ohio to collect several weeks using her personal information, and now she’s waiting on Michigan to find out what’s next.
Marge Lebednick worked at Spring Grove Variety in Wyoming for 28 years. The location closed in the spring due to COVID, and then went out of business in July, unrelated to the virus.
The 73-year-old was forced to retire.
“So when we first applied it was saying that my social security number and birth date did not match with my name, and that’s how it all got started,” said Lebednick.
Marge isn’t the best with computers, so her daughter Chris helped her file on May 10th.
“We had gotten in saw that there was already a claim filed and just started investigating into that claim and that’s when we saw that somebody had already processed a claim and certifying every week from the beginning of the pandemic,” said Tennant.
When they opened her MiWAM account they noticed the funds were set up to go to an account at Sutton Bank in Ohio. But it’s not Marge’s info and she’s never even been to that state.
“There’s an email, there’s a phone number there’s a whole banking account, completely set up so I really just started investigating,” said Tennant.
She found Marge’s payments that were sent to that account totaled more than $5,000.
The thief even put in an email address and selected “Go Green” so no documents were ever sent to Marge.
I emailed the account and called the number on file and never got a response.
Marge has been trying to get an answer from the UIA.
“They just disconnect you. We’ve tried. You know they say, ‘try early in the morning, try later at night’ – weekends, and yea, nothing!”
While they wait to hear back from the state, Sutton Bank did send me a response saying:
Sutton Bank is aware, through news, Law Enforcement and the Unemployment divisions of different states of these types of scams perpetrated on the Unemployment Divisions and consumers. We continue to work closely with these agencies to stop, prevent and return any monies that we are able to. Sutton Bank is a community bank with a Payments Division, whereby we partner with Prepaid Card Payment Managers all over the country. The secondary routing number you mention is one belonging to a Prepaid Card program.
In this particular case, it is virtually impossible for us to respond without additional specific details. However, based on the picture that you sent to us, we can only assume this is her login and account with the State of Michigan Unemployment division. If this is true, it appears the scammer gained access to her account and password and changed the information. As an apparent victim of identity theft, we recommend she immediately visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ and follow the recommendations on this site.
Banks are victims in these fraud schemes as well as the consumer. Again, while we do our best to identify and stop fraud, the responsibility for unemployment insurance payments lies with the government and state agencies. They are required to validate the identity of the person claiming the benefit. If that payment turns out to be a fraudulent payment, that’s ultimately a dispute between the consumer and the federal or State government making the payment.
Chris helped her mom fill out paperwork for ID theft saying she did not open a claim with that information and that she never received money from it.
“You know it was kind of sad because, you know, I worked all my life and I’ve never ever collected unemployment and I thought, ‘well, I’m entitled’ and I was just shocked,” said Lebednick. “I thought, ‘people don’t really do that’ but they do.”
Marge now has her Bank of America card from the UIA but says the account balance is still at $0. With no communication from the agency, she’s not sure when she’ll ever see her money.
“And still to this day, nobody, we have not been able to get ahold of anybody,” said Lebednick. “This is more frustrating than not having the money is not being able to talk to anybody.”
“That’s been her main mission every day is to continuously call, call, call,” said her daughter.