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32 charged with unemployment fraud in Illinois

CHICAGO — Federal prosecutors say 32 Chicago-area residents are charged with defrauding the state unemployment system of more than $870,000.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday said the defendants were charged separately in the alleged scheme targeting the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

Officials say the defendants either claimed to be unemployed or underreported their income to receive unearned benefits ranging from $19,400 to $38,800.

Twenty-seven are charged with felonies; five are charged with misdemeanor theft.

The felony counts carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as mandatory restitution. The misdemeanor counts have a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Illinois unemployment benefits are funded primarily by employers, while IDES administrative costs are funded primarily by the federal government.

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