INDIANAPOLIS - An unprecedented partnership between Indiana's Department of Workforce Development and the Marion County Prosecutor's Office will work to stop unemployment fraud.
Unemployment fraud cost the state $13 million in 2012 alone, and the figure doesn't include fraud that wasn't uncovered.
The new initiative, announced Monday, dedicates a full-time deputy prosecutor to actively look for people stealing unemployment money from the state.
Four people were just recently charged with defrauding the state out of more than $116,000 in unemployment benefits.
"We filed these four charges, they won't be the last," said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry. "We already have active investigations ongoing regarding other individuals… We intend to vigorously pursue those individuals who will defraud the system."
They'll also employ grand jury investigators, use subpoena powers and enlist the help of state police to go across county lines to find and prosecute those who cheat the system.
"I think it's key that we continue to go after these funds, and with this partnership, I think we'll be able to strengthen that effort," said Scott Sanders, commissioner of Indiana's DWD.
"Any sort of abuse of the system deprives those who are approaching the system in an honest and a truthful way," Curry said. "It certainly hurts employers who are contributing to the system. And whether it's Medicaid fraud, Medicare fraud, unemployment insurance fraud, all of those abuses of the system, all of us end up paying for that."
In addition to paying back the stolen funds, those found guilty of unemployment fraud will also face fines that will come back to the state to help fund other programs.