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(Watch a past report on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in the above video.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it’s placed temporary fraud alert holds on about 270,000 unemployment claims after noticing suspicious patterns.

More than 95 percent of the claims were flagged because they had multiple fraud indicators like deceased individuals, fraudulent IP addresses and bank routing numbers, and invalid email addresses. So far, less than 1 percent of these claims have been legitimate, according to ODJFS. Those claimants will have to take additional steps to prove their identity.

“Unfortunately, there are criminals hoping to take advantage of the COVID-19 emergency at the expense of honest Ohioans who have earned their benefits,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall, in a news release on Friday.

“We regret that legitimate claimants have been caught up in this fraud scheme, but we are charged with maintaining program integrity so that we can preserve benefits for those who need them.”

ODJFS has also released 1,500 claims for payment.

The agency reassigned 185 employees to help process legitimate claims. It also hired 60 additional staff members with another 20 starting this week.

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