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Unemployment fraud up in 2010, so were recoveries

Almost 7,000 people filed fraudulent unemployment benefit claims in 2010, the Washington Employment Security Department said today.

The claims amounted to $14 million, up 56 percent from 2009. But the department recovered $11 million in claims from 2010 and prior years, spokesman Jamie Swift said.

Although he could not say whether the fraud was a record, he noted that extended benefits offered during the recession gave cheats an opportunity to collect more money before they were caught. 

The fraudulent claims represent less than one-half percent of the total $4.6 billion in claims paid to more than 500,000 unemployed Washington workers in 2010.

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Bert Caldwell
Bert Caldwell oversees production of the opinion pages, including writing editorials, and editing and selecting letters, columns and cartoons.