Washington recovers $6.6 million stolen in pandemic unemployment scam

OLYMPIA, Wash. — An additional $6.6 million that was stolen from Washington’s State Employment Security Department during the pandemic has been recovered by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office.

The stolen money was deposited into JPMorgan Chase bank accounts. A King County Superior Court judge ordered the bank to return the money to Washington state.

The attorney general’s Complex Litigation Division has now used forfeiture laws to recover $18.8 million stolen from ESD.

During the pandemic, identity data obtained from data breaches was used by fraud rings to steal billions from at least 11 states, including Washington state.

Ferguson’s investigation searched for bank accounts where participants in fraud rings had not yet withdrawn the stolen money and then launched an effort to reclaim the funds for Washington state.

The AG’s office expects additional funds will be recovered from other banks and returned to the state ESD in the months ahead.