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Virginia Beach business could have to pay for fraudulent unemployment claims

W.C. Carpenter, a flooring contractor, received notice of 49 unemployment claims citing the company since August. The company only employs nine people.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia's unemployment fraud problem could force a Virginia Beach business to pay for people who never worked there.

W.C. Carpenter, a commercial and residential flooring contractor, said it has received notice of 49 unemployment claims filed since August, all citing the company for a "lack of work."

W.C. Carpenter only employs nine people, and the business' leaders and employees said none of the names of the people on those claims have worked there.

"It's ridiculous, it's insane," said Cecil Ward, one of the employees at W.C. Carpenter. "It could take another full-time employee to deal with all the claims that are being filed against us."

The company said it reported each claim to the Virginia Employment Commission as fraud, calling to ask for help dealing with the problem, but not getting any relief so far.

Recently, the VEC sent W.C. Carpenter a quarterly statement saying the VEC paid out benefits on four of the claims, sending $3,801 to unknown people.

"It’s going to increase our [tax] rate, which is going to have a negative impact on our business," Ward said.

Employers are required to pay more in unemployment taxes when their employees receive unemployment benefits after being laid off.

However, in this case, the company reports the claimants never worked there, and assumes they might not be real people.

"I feel like people are working the system. We’re not the only ones getting hit, this is going on everywhere," Ward said. "All we’d like is an answer, really, it’s extremely disappointing."

The VEC recommends that businesses report fraud on its website, but a number of businesses and people in Hampton Roads have told 13News Now that hasn’t stopped the claims from stacking up.

The VEC’s online claims system and some phone lines have been shut down since Monday while the VEC transitions to a new unemployment insurance system.

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