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ASHLAND — A reader recently reached out to Ashland Source, saying her son had received a call from someone pretending to be an employee at the Ashland County Department of Jobs and Family Services. The reader wanted us to look into this for her.

So we did.

JFS Director Peter Stefaniuk said he’s aware that fraudsters sometimes try to impersonate county employees.

“There are fraudsters out there, people looking to present or appear as though they work for jobs and family services or other public agencies and they’re looking to get personal information from people,” he said.

To avoid getting scammed, Stefaniuk recommends asking for the name of the caller claiming to be a JFS employee. Then, he recommends calling Ashland JFS or other local JFS offices and asking for that person by name.

Fraudsters also recently took advantage of Ohio’s aging unemployment claim system and the program’s relaxed requirements to steal over $574 million from the state during the pandemic, according to a report from the Ohio Auditor of State.

Tens of thousands of Ohioans, including Gov. Mike DeWine himself, discovered that someone else had taken out a bogus unemployment claim in their name. 

Ashland JFS received a number of calls about unemployment fraud during that time, and they worked with local residents to resolve the bogus claims, Stefaniuk said.

“I did as much as I could to certainly help them and correct them and how they can respond to those situations of fraud. And so I know the state also was doing a lot to try and help folks who found out that there was a claim made for unemployment made in their name,” he said.

Fraudsters look for any chance to take advantage of people, which is why they often target JFS programs, Stefaniuk added.

“I think these are folks who, this is kind of a modern version of thievery. If you were to ask why they would choose this in particular, I think they would choose just about anything that they think they might have an opportunity to mislead people and steal,” he said.

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