7,000 file phoney jobless claims

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

The bogus claims amounted to $14 million, up 56 percent from 2009. 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, Swift noted that extended benefits offered during the recession and slow recovery have given cheats an opportunity to collect more money before they are caught.

The department said one offender was snagged when he filed claims for both unemployment and worker’s compensation benefits. A work comp claim disqualifies an individual for unemployment payments.

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

Bert Caldwell

Advantage IQ honored

Spokane’s Advantage IQ has been given a Sustained Excellence award as part of this year’s Energy Star Partners program, announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The awards this year recognized 11 companies in three categories: Partner of the Year, Awards of Excellence and Sustained Excellence.

Advantage IQ provides ongoing management of utility, telecom and office expenses for corporate customers. It was one of 46 winners in the Sustained Excellence category.

Tom Sowa

Ashley Furniture stores closing

The three Ashley Furniture stores in Eastern Washington will close when the inventory is liquidated, Event Manager David Burns said Tuesday.

Stores in Liberty Lake and Richland have already closed, he said, and the furniture brought to the store at 10425 N. Newport Highway.

Burns said about $10 million in furnishings, accessories, rugs and other goods will be marked down as much as 75 percent, starting Thursday.

The Richland store has been purchased by a Vancouver couple and will be reopened, but the Spokane-area stores were not included in the transaction.

Ashley has three stores in Western Washington.

Bert Caldwell

Cisco to pull plug on Flip Video

NEW YORK – Cisco Systems Inc., one of the titans of the technology industry, on Tuesday said it is killing the Flip Video, the most popular video camera in the U.S., just two years after it bought the startup that created it.

Cisco never meaningfully integrated the Flip Video into its main business of making computer networking gear.

Associated Press

Fiat share of Chrysler grows

DETROIT – Fiat boosted its ownership stake in Chrysler Group LLC Tuesday as the Italian automaker met several benchmarks set by the U.S. government.

Fiat’s stake in Chrysler rose to 30 percent from 25 percent, and it can rise to 35 percent when Chrysler begins making a 40 mpg car in the U.S.

Associated Press

Business travel expected to rise

NEW YORK – Business travelers are forecast to spend $245.8 billion this year, up nearly 7 percent from 2010, thanks to improving economic conditions and increasing corporate confidence, an industry trade group said Tuesday.

That prediction is $6.5 billion better than an outlook released in January, and growth is expected to continue at least through 2012.

Associated Press

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