WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) releases data on the fraud attempts and fraud payments the agency has paid since the start of 2020.

“Following an in-depth analysis and IRS Form 1099-G reconciliation, KDOL has determined that from Jan. 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, about $140 million in fraudulent claim payments were made from the Kansas regular unemployment insurance program. Additionally, more than $150 million in fraudulent payments are attributed to federal benefits programs, for a total of $290 million,” KDOL explained.

Nationwide, the department said it’s estimated that unemployment fraud has cost taxpayers about $36 million nationwide since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March. The total amount of potential fraud is about 11 percent of total unemployment insurance payouts since last March. Other states to have publicly shared fraud numbers include California with $11.4 billion in fraud payouts, Washington with $600 million and Ohio with $330 million in 2020.

“Fraud is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. It’s stealing from taxpayers at the worst possible time and all attempts at fraud will be referred in the strongest possible manner to law enforcement,” Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said. “All 50 states have been overrun with coordinated, sophisticated criminal fraud attempts, and that’s why I wrote a letter with fellow Governors, calling on Congress to provide funding to secure and modernize our systems.”

The state reported that since the start of 2020, KDOL has stopped about 500,000 fraudulent claims that were the result of identity theft and other unemployment-related fraud that, it says, could have cost more than $22 billion.

“These stopped claims are the result of many hours of effort from the KDOL fraud team who have worked tirelessly to combat sophisticated criminal rings, which have targeted the state’s unemployment system,” a news release from Kelly’s office said. “The number also includes identity theft cases that have been reported by individuals and businesses.”

Since March 15 of 2020, the state said KDOL has paid out more than 4 million weekly claims totaling more than $2.7 billion between regular unemployment and the federal pandemic programs. For more information, or to apply for unemployment benefits, visit www.GetKansasBenefits.gov .