The state of Colorado has wasted some $128 million on a massive series of clerical errors in handing out unemployment benefits. People were overpaid or got checks when they weren’t eligible for them. About four percent of those problematic unemployment checks went to fraudsters.
Now Colorado wants the money back.
Only the money’s gone. “I absolutely cannot pay it back,” said one unemployment benefits recipient, Lyn McLaughlin. “All for money that was mine, it wasn’t a mistake.” The state is threatening McLaughlin with charging 18% interest or prosecuting her. “There are times when a claimant isn’t eligible and whether they knew it or didn’t know it, that money belongs to the state,” says Cher Haavind of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “We understand hardship but we need to return that money to the state.”
So now honest people who receive government checks, then use them, are held responsible for the government’s mistakes. That’ll teach them to take governmental promises seriously.