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Huge Washington unemployment fraud warning to other states

This photo shows a sign at the headquarters for Washington state's Employment Security Department Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's rush to get unemployment benefits to residents who lost jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak left it vulnerable to criminals who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
This photo shows a sign at the headquarters for Washington state's Employment Security Department Tuesday, May 26, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington state's rush to get unemployment benefits to residents who lost jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak left it vulnerable to criminals who made off with hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent claims. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(KMVT)
Published: May. 27, 2020 at 10:28 AM MDT
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Washington state's race to help newly laid-off residents as the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy left it vulnerable to fraud.

Last week officials hinted at the scope of the damage done: hundreds of millions of dollars paid out in fake claims.

Much of it apparently went to a West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches, such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach.

Authorities have tried to claw back as much money as possible and blocked hundreds of millions more from being paid, but Washington's experience is nevertheless a cautionary tale.

By late last week, attacks had been detected in at least nine states.

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