author photo
By Clare O’Gara
Mon | Jun 1, 2020 | 9:57 AM PDT

Earlier in May, SecureWorld covered the spread of devastating cyberattacks targeting unemployment benefits.

Washington State was at the epicenter, and the criminals delivered a "gut punch" to the state's unemployment system.

"In recent weeks, school districts, universities, municipal governments and private employers have told The Seattle Times that they have identified hundreds of suspect claims filed on behalf of employees who are still working. On Wednesday, a single employer—Western Washington University—told The Times that 410 of its 2,463-person staff had been targeted by fraudulent claims.

Recent updates from KATU2 have also revealed 1,008 unemployment fraud cases reported by the The Bellevue Police Department and 2,109 reports from the King County Sheriff's Department between May 1 and May 18."

But new developments are showing some improvement.

Washington State recovers $300 million

That's a big number from what State Scoop is calling "a few tweaks."

But despite the description, Washington State seemed to quickly take action in the battle against unemployment fraud.

"The Washington Employment Security Department announced Thursday it recovered $300 million in funds fraudulently diverted by scammers, while many jobless workers affected by business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic wait for assistance. The department also reported that the number of initial unemployment claims it received for the week of May 17 declined 65 percent from the previous week."

That's a sharp improvement. And according to department commissioner Suzi LeVine, it has everything to do with improvements in cybersecurity, adjusting how the state screens for this type of cybercrime:

"Our priorities from day one of this crisis have been to get benefits out to Washingtonians who need them quickly and expand eligibility so those impacted can get the help they need.

In recent weeks, at the same time we have taken aggressive measures to tackle the increase of imposter fraud in our system, we have stayed laser-focused on helping every Washingtonian with a valid claim get the benefits they deserve."

And with more than 40 million Americans filing for unemployment during this pandemic, it's safe to say there's plenty of Washingtonians looking for that support.