CHESAPEAKE, Va. — A Chesapeake woman filing for unemployment discovered her name was fraudulently used in a claim months ago, and now she's having difficulty receiving benefits.
Okoya Walker lost her job in September when a state agency shut down the title loan company she worked for.
Walker, who had delivered a baby boy a month earlier in August, filed for unemployment benefits.
"I was grateful to have a job during the pandemic," she said. "Now, I needed help."
After she filed an unemployment claim, a Virginia Employment Commission representative told her someone tried to fraudulently file under her name in March.
"I don’t think people understand how bad [the fraud] is, cause it’s bad, I didn’t realize how bad it is until it happens to you," Walker said. "Oh my goodness."
Walker said she was able to verify her identity with the VEC, and staffers cleared her of fraud concerns, but she is still waiting for help.
"People do these types of things and get away with it, and then somebody like me comes along who needs it and suffers for it," she said.
Walker said a VEC agent told her no money was paid out on the fraudulent claim, but as a mom of a newborn, any delay in payment is causing her problems.
"I have three kids. It’s unbelievable," she said. "I have bills, everybody has to live, and it’s not fair, it's not even my fault," she said.
Now, she's waiting for action from the VEC.
"I need a deputy to say - approved. It's all I'm waiting for."
A state watchdog agency estimates VEC paid out close to $70 million in fraudulent claims in 2020.