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State AG advises to beware of jobless benefits scam

Scam artists tend to prey on those most vulnerable or the most desperate in society — those who can least afford to lose what the scammer is trying to obtain. It’s difficult for decent people to fathom how someone could choose to profit off such schemes, knowing how devastating it likely will be for the targeted individual if successful.

The latest scam in Michigan tries to take advantage of those collecting much-needed unemployment benefits, warns Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

Claimants are receiving an email from a Gmail account that appears to be from the Unemployment Insurance Agency asking for personal information. The scammer also attaches what looks like an actual communication from the UIA in an apparent effort to strengthen the credibility of the email.

“There is no government agency, state or federal, that uses Gmail for official purposes,” Nessel said, noting the scammer’s email address. “Michigan residents should always examine the full email address if the sender is requesting their personal information.”

Those who receive this email should not respond. UIA would never seek personal information through an email. Responses to ID verification requests from UIA should only be uploaded through the person’s secure Michigan Web Account Manager, or MiWAM, account online at the UIA’s website, which also has more information on guarding against identity theft.

Anyone who has fallen for this scam should immediately report fraud or identity theft with the UIA. They also should monitor their banking and account information each time they certify for benefits.

“Bad actors are increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to deceive people into giving away personal information,” Nessel advised. “This is one of the cruelest scams I’ve ever seen because it targets vulnerable residents who are desperate to receive their UIA benefits — so desperate that they may not inspect the email address to confirm its validity.”

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