There are a number of people in Bergen County who were hard hit by the recession, many of whom lost their jobs. This has led to many people applying for unemployment insurance benefits through the New Jersey Department of Labor. These benefits are meant to help people until they are able to get back on their feet, yet there has apparently been a problem with unemployment insurance fraud. While there are no doubt individuals who are defrauding the government in an attempt to collect unemployment benefits, the state has also admitted that it sometimes denies benefits to individuals who have done nothing wrong.
Losing unemployment benefits is bad enough, but what if the state also pursues white-collar criminal charges against the individual, too? Fraud can be a particularly harsh charge, in part because of the negative ramifications that come along with a conviction.
If someone has a criminal record that lists a fraud conviction, he or she may find it particularly difficult to find a job. Because the crime of fraud is based on lies, deceit and stealing, many employers are hesitant to trust former offenders. Now, for someone who is wrongfully charged with or convicted of unemployment insurance fraud, these consequences can be too much.
The New Jersey Department of Labor is focused on reducing fraudulent claims for benefits, but that could also mean that some people will be wrongfully targeted. And with pressure to convict, it is even more important to work with a criminal defence attorney.
No one wants to be wrongfully convicted of a crime, but it is also important that people who actually need unemployment benefits do not get cut off from those benefits because of an unfounded charge.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "NJ targeting unemployment insurance fraud; the check may not be in the mail," Ted Sherman, June 22, 2014