Victim of unemployment scam offers warning

Woman says someone applied for benefits in her name


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman said she's one of many victims in a recent unemployment scam, and things could have been a lot worse if she hadn't checked her mail.

Brandi Salley said she started receiving letters last Friday saying she was approved for unemployment benefits. But Salley has two jobs and said she never applied for unemployment.

Officials at the unemployment office told her they are investigating the claim, but she said she's still worried about her credit and wanted to warn others.

Salley has lived in her house for more than six years, so she was surprised when the unemployment office sent her a letter confirming a change of address.

"I even Google mapped this address, and it's just some house in Miami, two bedroom, one bath," Salley said. "It had a picture of the house and everything. Clueless."

Salley said she's been planning a move, but not halfway across the state, which is one reason why she called News4Jax.

She said the strange letters began last Friday, when she received one from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunities saying she was approved for unemployment assistance: $275 a week.

"It had my employer, St. Vincent's, and UF Health on it, and how much I made, this whole quarterly statement, so it looked legit," Salley said. "I said, 'I didn't apply for unemployment benefits,' and when I called it was the unemployment office and they said, 'Well, yes, someone filed a claim on July 15 with your Social Security number, your name, and everything.'"

She said the fraud department put an alert on her credit statement, but a day later, Salley went to her mailbox and found another letter. This time, a debit card with activation instructions. Monday, she called the Economic Opportunities office again, and they told her to shred everything.

Then she received a voice mail from St. Vincent's asking about an unemployment claim.

Salley said she returned the call from the Human Resources Department at St. Vincent's, and officials told her she isn't the only current St. Vincent's employee to have an unemployment benefit claim filed in their name. Salley is worried someone is leaking personal information, which is why she wanted to let others know what's going on.

"People need to know this is real," Salley said. "She said some people have been getting letters and ignoring them. Don't ignore them; they're real."

Salley said right now it's a waiting game to see what will happen, but she hopes things will be resolved.

News4Jax contacted St. Vincent's Health Care about the scam, but we haven't heard back yet.