NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — With thousands of people who’ve lost jobs to COVID-19 hoping to get unemployment, it’s unusual to hear that someone was approved without even applying — or maybe not.

On Friday, 10 On Your Side brought you a bizarre story about a local man who was awarded benefits, even though he’s worked steadily for decades and never even applied.

It all sounded too familiar to a commercial real estate agent in Norfolk.

“I got a heads up (Friday) from one of my buddies saying you gotta watch WAVY tonight,” said Rob Stanton. “There’s another guy going through exactly what you went through.”

Stanton watched Friday’s story of local shipping executive Steve Carmel with great interest. Just like Carmel, Stanton got a letter in the mail from the Virginia Employment Commission telling him he had been approved for unemployment benefits.

“Which was kind of a shock to me because I’ve never been unemployed, thankfully,” Stanton said.

And he never applied for benefits. But the letter and its personal information had Stanton wondering what was up.

“It had my employer, it had wage history, it had the last four digits of my social security number, so that was a little bit alarming.”

Stanton alerted his bank and tried to reach VEC by phone, and even visited the local VEC office. After the story Friday with Carmel, Stanton contacted 10 On Your Side.

We were able to connect both Stanton and Carmel with the VEC and the agency is blocking their so-called “claims” and sent them to the fraud unit. Both got PIN numbers, which would have enabled them to start the process of getting money they didn’t want in the first place.

The money wasn’t squandered — but it seems time and resources were.

“They could be one digit off on a social security number, and I get loaded into the system rather than somebody who is actually waiting on the benefits. That’s the hard part,” Stanton said.

Stanton says it happened to someone else in the same office, and he too has reached out to the VEC to get his case straightened out.

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