For Immediate Release
June 15, 2020
Kate Giaquinto, Director of Communications
firstname.lastname@example.org | 603-573-6103
Richard Lavers, Deputy Commissioner
Department of Employment Security
Adam L. Woods, Unemployment Fraud Prosecutor
Concord, NH - Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald and Department of Employment Security Commissioner George Copadis urge all New Hampshire residents, especially those claiming unemployment compensation benefits through the Department of Employment Security, to be aware of the various kinds of fraud that the Employment Security Department detects, investigates, and prosecutes and the accompanying penalties if one is convicted of unemployment compensation fraud.
The Department of Employment Security provides unemployment compensation benefits to eligible claimants who are unemployed through no fault of their own. As a result of the COVID-19 State of Emergency, the number of claims for unemployment compensation benefits increased dramatically.
Unemployment compensation fraud is a crime that carries with it serious, long-term consequences. Those filing for benefits should be aware that the Department of Employment Security, in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement agencies, investigates and prosecutes unemployment compensation fraud to protect New Hampshire's unemployment compensation trust fund and preserve benefits for those truly unemployed and meeting eligibility requirements. The New Hampshire Department of Justice has an embedded prosecutor dedicated to unemployment compensation fraud, and the Office has a long record of success in holding offenders accountable.
Earnings-related fraud, or unemployment compensation fraud, occurs when a claimant willfully makes a false statement or representation or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact for the purpose of obtaining or increasing the benefits or payments they receive, and to which they are not entitled. New Hampshire law provides the following possible consequences:
In addition to the penalties described above, any individual convicted of unemployment compensation fraud is disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits for one year from conviction.
Employer-assisted fraud occurs when, with the purpose that an employee commit the crime of unemployment compensation fraud, an employer commands, solicits or requests such employee to file for unemployment compensation benefits while still working for the employer and not reporting such work in the employee's claim. This conduct could constitute criminal solicitation in violation of RSA 629:2. The penalties for any individual convicted of criminal solicitation in this circumstance are the same as the crime that was solicited. For example, if the employee's false statement regarding hours worked for the employer would result in additional benefits of $1,000 or more, the employer could be prosecuted for criminal solicitation as a class A felony with a potential penalty of 7½ to 15 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
These laws are intended to protect the integrity of New Hampshire's unemployment compensation trust fund. That fund has served as a vital means to provide financial relief to thousands of New Hampshire workers during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. As the restrictions in effect due to the outbreak of COVID-19 are eased, those returning to full-time employment are not entitled to benefits. For those continuing with or returning to part-time employment, individuals need to be mindful of always answering the questions presented on their weekly unemployment claim truthfully. The best way to comply with the law and avoid potentially serious consequences is to report work and all earnings truthfully and accurately.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301