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Local business owner: Stranger getting thousands in unemployment using my shops

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Someone living outside the region is collecting thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits using two Rochester-area shops, a local business owner alleges.

Mary Elizabeth Nesser, a co-owner of two salons in the Rochester area, told News 8 the person has never worked for her businesses, but has claimed over $10,000 citing both businesses since June.

“It was strange to think that somebody was collecting unemployment from me since they never worked for me,” said Nesser. “And the fact that they’re collecting from both of our salons is a very strange feeling.”

Nesser says it’s been difficult getting a hold of someone within the State Department of Labor to resolve the issue, both at the state level and locally.

“You know, with the Internet,” continued Nesser, “our personal and business security isn’t as safe anymore. So I just find it really unsettling.”

News 8 reached out to the New York State Dept. of Labor about Nesser’s case. The state provided News 8 with this response:

“The New York State Department of Labor has a rigorous application and screening process to weed out fraudulent claims, including checks by multiple state agencies and multiple opportunities for business owners to dispute incorrect information. Unemployment benefits are a lifeline for New Yorkers who lose their jobs, and it is unacceptable that dishonest individuals would seek to defraud the system for their own gain. Make no mistake: attempting to cheat the unemployment system is a crime, and we investigate all reports of fraud to hold perpetrators accountable.”

— Deanna Cohen, Deputy Director of Communications, New York State Department of Labor

The State Department of Labor said it could not confirm nor deny that an investigation was happening or give details about cases. The state included more information as part of a response to News 8’s inquiry, including the procedure used for processing unemployment benefits, available below:

The state itself pays out unemployment benefits. For employers, having more workers on unemployment can increase the rate at which businesses contribute to state unemployment.

The state has paid billions of dollars in unemployment benefits since the pandemic began.

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