Another 24,500 individuals have filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week – more than double the number of claims the previous week, the Maine Department of Labor said Thursday.
The large number of claims is suspicious, coming off a week in which 11,500 individuals filed claims for assistance, officials said.
“We believe these higher numbers are evidence of the organized crime of unemployment impostor fraud, which many states are experiencing,” Commissioner Laura Fortman said.
All told, there were a combined 37,000 claims for state unemployment and pandemic assistance for the week ending May 23, topping the previous high of 34,000 claims during the week ending April 4, officials said.
To date, the department has canceled about 2,200 unemployment claims because of fraud. The department is investigating another 1,000 cases for potential fraud.
The Maine Center for Disease Control reported three more deaths and another 52 positive tests for the new conronavirus.
That brings the total number of deaths to 84 and the total number of cases to 2,189, the Maine CDC reported Thursday.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
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