Thomas County Sheriff’s Office investigating unemployment fraud in county

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:10 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 10:11 AM EDT
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WCTV) - The Thomas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating around 50 fraudulent unemployment applications.

Authorities say a box of applications was mailed over from the Georgia Department of Labor in June with submissions dating back to 2020.

Captain Tim Watkins with TCSO said 10 warrants have been submitted and approved in Thomas County with seven arrests already made.

In one case, the suspect claimed to have a barbershop on 213 Persimmon Street and received thousands of dollars in payments over the course of several weeks. Watkins said when investigators checked the validity of the location, they realized the unemployment claim was false.

“If you go by that location, you’ll see that’s a vacant lot and it’s been vacant since 2004,” said Watkins. “We started the audit and were able to get the credit card information because the state of Georgia uses a debit card to make unemployment payments.”

Investigators also found some of the suspects are already in jail or prison for other crimes. Watkins said it is believed that someone out side filed the claims for them.

In order not to overwhelm the court system, Watkins said they will file for a few warrant approvals, make those arrests and then continue with the process until the investigation is complete.

According to Watkins, TCSO will also investigate fraudulent payroll protection or PPP loans as well. There are over 1,000 claims filed in the Thomas County area and investigators believe many of those are also fraudulent.

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