CHICAGO (CBS) — Stolen state money – why doesn’t the state want it back?

A Chicago woman is asking that question months after she tracked down where a fraudster stole her unemployment money, and shared the information she gathered with police and the State of Illinois.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina took the woman’s questions straight to Chicago Police and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

We first introduced you to the woman, Frances, over the summer, when she told us about her stolen unemployment money. It was money she had been relying on.

Her fraud case is closed, but with the year coming to an end, she wants to know why the person who stole from her and the state, hasn’t been criminally charged.

“I want this person off the street,” Frances said in August.

That’s what Frances said about the fraudster who stole her Illinois unemployment benefits this past summer – the second time we talked to her.

“I’m going to be just like a pit bull – just like a bulldog,” Frances said. “I’m just going to keep calling and calling and calling and calling.”

And she meant it – doggedly calling the state, the bank, and Chicago Police. She said Friday that she never stopped.

“I want the criminals off the street,” Frances said. “If they did it to me, they did it to other people.”

Frances said the Illinois Department of Employment Security fixed the fraud issue and reinstated her benefits. But even though she managed to get some information from the bank – the local banks the fraudster used and the money taken out at each one – nothing has been done to track the thief down.

“Here’s a chance to probably catch someone, and no one wants to do anything about it?” Frances said.

Back in July and August, we asked IDES what was being done to recoup money in cases like these –
especially when the fraudster is local. In Frances’ case, money was taken from Chicago-area banks.

And while we know they can’t speak to specific cases, IDES never addressed that question. So nearly six months later, we turned to Chicago Police – where Frances reported all of this…

“I feel like they’re not doing anything,” Frances said. “I feel like more should be done.”

Chicago Police told us the case is pending any new investigatory information. Police encouraged anyone with related information to reach out to them about this kind of fraud.

But when we asked if surveillance has even been checked at those banks, police said they don’t have any other information available right now.

“Why is this taking so long?” Frances said. “You know the bank, the address, the terminal number.”

Heading into a New Year, Frances is hopeful that 2022 will be the year the person who put her, and possibly others, through so much heartache is finally held accountable, charged, and forced to pay the State of Illinois those tax payer dollars back.

“I want charges brought against this person or persons that did this,” Frances said.

Chicago Police released the following statement:

“The case is pending any new investigatory information.

“A suspended status means the case cannot proceed further at this time. That can happen for a variety of reasons, including detectives exhausting all leads currently available.

“It is not a permanent status and it can be changed if and when more information becomes available.

“Anyone with information is urged to contact police or submit an anonymous tip online at CPDTIP.com.

“We do not have any additional information available to us in this office.”

The IDES issued this statement:

“IDES cannot comment on individual cases or ongoing investigations. The most up-to-date information regarding unemployment fraud can be found at ides.illinois.gov/fraud.

Meanwhile, for almost two years now, CBS 2’s Molina has asked the state how much unemployment money it has lost to scammers since the start of the pandemic. They still have not shared that number with us.

CBS 2 is committing to Working For Chicago, connecting you every day with the information you or a loved one might need about the jobs market, and helping you remove roadblocks to getting back to work.

We’ll keep uncovering information every day to help this community get back to work, until the job crisis passes. CBS 2 has several helpful items right here on our website, including a look at specific companies that are hiring, and information from the state about the best way to get through to file for unemployment benefits in the meantime.

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