Unemployment Fraud

NRS 612.445 makes it illegal for an individual to lie with the aim to increase or obtain unemployment benefits that they are not eligible for. This can lead to harges of unemployment fraud. This is a serious offense that has relatively severe punishments and lifelong consequences. If you are facing unemployment fraud in Las Vegas, reach out to The Law Offices of Martin Hart for our top-notch criminal defense services.

Legal Definition of Unemployment Fraud

Nevada law makes it illegal for an individual to obtain unemployment benefits that they are not entitled to by either:

  • Giving false earnings reports

  • Using another person’s name, security number, or any personal information to claim benefits

  • Receiving or claiming unemployment benefits without disclosing compensation rehabilitative services money or partial or total disability, OR

  • Helping another person to engage in unemployment fraud

  • Reporting false work searches

  • Collecting benefits from more than one state

  • Using a fake employer and stating that they laid you off from work and receiving benefits through that

  • Refusing to report work refusals

  • Getting the benefits when not available or capable of working

Employers can also be charged with unemployment insurance fraud if they:

  • Lie and classify employees as independent contractors

  • Lie about an employee’s personal information or fail to report wages paid to workers

For example, Mike, a waiter at a Casino, is fired for trying to steal a customer’s money. Mike then filed for unemployment insurance claiming that the casino was downsizing which is why he got laid off. If the Employment Security Division discovers the course of his firing, Mike will likely be charged with unemployment fraud under NRS 612.445.

There is a different law in Nevada that prohibits employers from trying to eliminate or reduce their payment obligations fraudulently. Some of the common scenarios include:

  • Withholding an employee’s deduction and refusing to pay them to the state

  • An employer lying about their employee’s termination reason and their salaries to evade paying insurance money

How is Unemployment Fraud Investigated in Nevada?

When a person files an unemployment insurance claim, the Nevada Employment Security Division must check any misleading details or anything suggesting that the claimant could be lying. The division has special skills to determine “red flags” in these applications, and if they believe that an individual is trying to obtain the insurance or they have obtained the insurance fraudulently, they will refer the case to law enforcement.

Who is Eligible for Unemployment Insurance?

Any worker who was recently laid off is eligible for unemployment insurance. The aim of unemployment insurance is to sustain these workers as they look for new employment. These funds come from the taxes that employers pay to the government. However, there are various requirements that a claimant must meet for them to be eligible for this insurance in Nevada. The former employee must:

  • Not be employed for full-time or unemployed

  • Have been laid off of work not for their on fault

  • Be willing to look for a job and accept any relevant job available

  • Not ignore any relevant work offered to them

  • Be mentally and physically fit to work

  • Have worked for a long period

  • Be available to work

Penalties for Unemployment Fraud

Penalties for the violation of NRS 612.445 vary depending on the amount of money involved. If the money involved in the fraud is less than $650, the offense will be charged as a misdemeanor, and the offender will likely face the following penalties:

  • Restitution

  • Six months imprisonment in county jail

  • Fines of up to $1,000

However, if the offense involved an amount exceeding $650 but less than $3,500, the offense falls under C felony, and the potential penalties include:

  • Restitution

  • Fines of up to $10,000

  • Imprisonment for five years in state prison

  • A punishment equivalent to 15% of the fraud amount received

  • Additional penalties decided under the judge’s discretion

If the fraud involved an amount of more than $3500, the offense falls under B felony, and the penalties may include the following:

  • Restitution

  • Fines of up to $10,000

  • Imprisonment in state pron for ten years

  • A punishment equivalent to 15% of the fraud amount received

  • Additional penalties decided under the judge’s discretion

Possible Defenses to Help Fight Unemployment Fraud Charges

There are several defenses that your defense attorney could use to fight our charges and possibly receive a lesser charge or have your charges dismissed completely. These defenses include:

Insufficient Evidence

In most cases, unemployment fraud is charged based on anonymous tips, red flags, and no substantial evidence against the defendant. With no circumstantial evidence, the prosecutor may present weak evidence to try to capitulate. A skilled attorney may be able to challenge the evidence. For you to be convicted, the prosecutor has to prove that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Lack of Intent

Filing an unemployment insurance claim fraudulently is not enough to have you convicted of the offense. The intent is a crucial element that must be present. Your intent must have been to defraud the unemployment system by receiving benefits you are not entitled to. If you accidentally provided wrong information when filling a valid unemployment claim, you are not guilty and cannot be charged with unemployment fraud.

False Accusations

False accusations of unemployment fraud are quite common. This can occur when another person has stolen your identity and used it to file a claim or when someone you do not get along with makes accusations of revenge or leads the investigators to the wrong target. If you are falsely accused, you could use the help of your attorney to prove that.

Administrative Error

The law is aware that man is to error and that the government agencies are no exception. Sometimes, these agencies make mistakes and blame them on innocent people who have to prove their innocence in court. If you have been accused of unemployment fraud, you can use the help of your attorney to prove that there was a clerical error.

Frequently Asked Questions About Unemployment Fraud

We have compiled a list of the frequently asked questions below to help you understand UI better.

Can my unemployment fraud record be sealed?

Yes. If your case is dismissed, Nevada law allows you to have your criminal record sealed, but the amount of time it takes depends on the category you were charged with. For example, a misdemeanor conviction takes one year after the end of the case for the criminal record to be sealed. Category C and B felonies take up to 5 years.

Does unemployment fraud cause deportation?

In Nevada, unemployment fraud is a deportable offense, especially if the amount of money involved is huge. If you are facing charges under NRS 612.445, ensure you consult with your attorney if you may be able to negotiate a lesser charge that is non-deportable.

Can I claim benefits while working part-time?

Yes, you can file and receive benefits even when receiving other wages. However, you must work less than full time and earn a lower amount than your weekly benefits. While filing your weekly claim, you must report all your weekly wages.

Can I go on vacation when receiving unemployment benefits?

No. You are required to be constantly looking for work and be able and available to work while receiving the benefits. If you spend a week in the hospital or on vacation, you are not supposed to file for your weekly benefits since you will not be available to work.

What happens if another person uses my identity to claim benefits? Will I be arrested?

No. You cannot be held liable for a crime you did not commit. However, you have the role to prove that you did not file for benefits yourself.

Can I still use my personal information to file for benefits after someone had stolen my identity and used it to apply for benefits?

Yes. The Nevada Employment Security Division can differentiate between the two claims.

What should an employer do after receiving news of a fraudulent claim?

As an employer, you have a role in helping the division to differentiate between identity theft and unemployment fraud. To know this, you should:

  • Confirm with your employee if they have filed for the benefits

  • If you confirm it is identity theft, you are supposed to report it immediately to the division

  • Safely store any correspondence in case the division requires you to provide additional information

How should I protect my personal details from fraudsters?

Placing a fraud alert on your social security number and your name with every credit bureau is the first security measure. Also, request every bureau to send you a free copy of your credit report and review it. If you find any detail or transaction that is not yours, you should dispute it immediately. If you receive an inquiry from a labor department in a different state, it might mean that someone used your details to file for benefits, and you should contact the unemployment division of that state.

Can I know who filed the claim and how they got my details?

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who and how they accessed your personal information. However, it is believed that the information was from a data breach from an agency.

Related Offenses

Some crimes are charged with or alongside unemployment fraud in Nevada. These offenses include:

Grand Theft (NRS 205.220)

The offense may be charged as grand theft if the amount involved in the unemployment fraud is more than $1,200 within 12 months. The penalties for grand theft in Nevada depend on the amount involved. For example, in a case where the amount is higher than $1,200 and less than $5,000, it is classified as a D felony, and the penalties include imprisonment in Nevada state prison for 1-4 years and fines of up to $5,000. If the amount is higher than $5,000 but lower than $25,000, the offense is considered a C felony, and the penalties include up to 5 years imprisonment in state prison and fines of up to $10,000. Amounts above $25,000 to $100,000 are considered categories . The penalties include fines of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years imprisonment.

Forgery (NRS 205.090)

If you commit unemployment fraud by forging documents or another person’s signature, you could be charged with NRS 612.445 and NRS 205.090. Forgery in Nevada is considered a D felony, and it’s punishable by up to 4 years imprisonment in state prison, restitution, and $5,000 fines.

Perjury (NRS 199.120)

You commit a perjury offense when you lie under oath. This offense can sometimes be charged alongside perjury, especially when a claimant gives false information when applying for benefits. This offense is considered a D felony, and its penalties include imprisonment in state prison for 4 years and fines of up to $5,000.

Conspiracy (NRS 199.480)

When a claimant conspires with others to commit a crime, they may be charged with unemployment fraud alongside conspiracy. Nevada law makes it a crime for two or more individuals to agree or plan to break the law. This offense is either charged as a gross misdemeanor or a B felony. The penalties mainly include up to ten years imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000. However, the penalties may vary depending on the crime a defendant is being charged with.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Unemployment fraud is among the most complex cases, so it is always advisable not to walk into the courtroom without the best defense team by your side. At The Law Offices of Martin Hart, we offer top-tier legal representation and advice to clients facing unemployment fraud. Our experienced attorneys have knowledge of Nevada laws and are familiar with the Las Vegas court system, making us the best legal team for you. Call us today at 702-380-4278 for a free initial consultation.