RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- A North Carolina legislative panel is looking for ways to crack down on fraudulent unemployment compensation payments, but the lawmakers are learning that it's tough to prove someone has been cheating the system.
A state Division of Employment Security spokeswoman told the House Unemployment Fraud Task Force on Wednesday that about 21,000 potential fraud investigations are in progress, while somewhere between 160 and 290 cases were turned over to prosecutors in each of the past four years.
Officials say criminal fraud is hard to prosecute since online or telephone applications make it hard to prove who applied for payments.
The panel is looking for ways to find and collect from cheaters to reduce the $2.6 billion North Carolina borrowed from Washington after state unemployment insurance funds ran out.
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