More mistaken tax documents in Hampton Roads could point to fraud involving unemployment benefits

Coronavirus

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — When a Portsmouth retiree received a tax document saying she received more than $14,000 last year in unemployment benefits, we figured maybe it was an isolated incident.

It wasn’t. Other viewers have contacted us with similar stories.

Gabriel Beau of Newport News saw last week’s 10 On Your Side report on Carolyn Smith, 72, who received tax form 1099-G, stating she received $14,446 last year from the Virginia Employment Commission. That money would be taxable under federal law.

Beau received the same type of form, which said he received more than $9,000.

He logged onto his account and found a huge red flag that suggested someone stole his identity.

“The phone number wasn’t mine, the account number wasn’t mine and the home address wasn’t mine. Somehow they used my name but put their information in it. It was really weird,” he said.

Tre’Cee Copeland’s case of a mistaken tax document has a twist. She opened her mail and received a 1099-G totaling $16,614 — but it was in the name of her 16-year-old son.

10 On Your Side will report both cases to the Virginia Employment Commission’s fraud division.

Meanwhile, unemployment hassles more of the “garden variety” continue.

Ashley Denny of Chesapeake hasn’t received any benefits since November. She’s was laid off from Sam’s Club at the beginning of the pandemic, and then found work as a hostess at Cracker Barrel in Greenbrier, but hasn’t been getting any hours lately.

Her benefit account shows a balance of more than $2,600 but she can’t get to it.

“I have called, I have emailed, and not received any correspondence to anything that I have done. It’s been terrible. I haven’t been able to pay my rent, I haven’t been able to pay my bills, all my bills are late,” Denny said.

It took Lauren Harris nearly a year to get the VEC to review her documentation. Finally, she received a decision from the VEC that she was qualified for the 12 weeks she was out of work last summer. The money added up quickly because the $600 a week federal supplement was still in effect.

“I have three children to feed. One still on formula, one disabled. And a teenager,” Harris said.

Harris is eligible for anywhere from $8,000 to 10,000 in benefits.

If you have a problem with unemployment, contact us at reportit@wavy.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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