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The big problem with these Va. Employment Commission letters: 'They need to get this straight'

Happy woman reading a letter
Posted at 7:34 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 11:50:28-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Dozens of letters from the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) pile up at Jacqueline Barbour's house in South Richmond.

None of the letters are addressed to her, yet they all list her address.

"Not my name, nada, not my name at all," Barbour said. "This is a house as you can see, this is not big enough for these people to live here, so I don't know."

We first met Barbour in December when she contacted the Problem Solvers about the letters.

Since then, she said she has received roughly 100 more letters from the VEC. She recently started getting mail from employment offices in other states.

"I'm getting stuff from Arizona, Nevada, I don't know who these people are," Barbour said. "They need to get this straight."

VEC letters Melissa PSI 01.jpg

Barbour said she was extremely frustrated because she emailed the VEC back in December and asked them to address the issue.

They told her then they would look into it, but she said she never heard from anyone.

The letters kept coming.

"If you don't mind, talking to the VEC again, apparently my email didn't work so, definitely didn't work or we wouldn't be standing here," Barbour said.

We reached out to VEC spokeswoman Joyce Fogg, and she said their fraud unit is investigating.

"If this is a scheme, I don't know how they're doing it," Barbour said. "Question is, are these people alive, are they dead, are they in the hospital, are they in a coma, we don't know. That's why I called you, you have time to investigate it."

In an interesting twist, while we were talking to Barbour, her next-door neighbor came out and said he is now getting letters addressed to people he does not know, also from the VEC.

"I felt better because, hey, I'm not alone," Barbour said.

VEC letters Melissa PSI 03.jpg

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers asked the VEC how many claims have been filed fraudulently, how much money may have been paid out in fraudulent claims, and how much of that money they have been able to recoup so far.

Fogg responded that the information was not available at this time and would require time that the staff needs to assist clients.

She did share data from the Department of Labor that said Virginia recovered 52 percent of roughly $31,500,000 in benefit overpayments in 2020.

And, just days ago, the Justice Department announced that a 28-year-old woman had pleaded guilty to trying to defraud the VEC out of nearly half-a-million dollars.

Leelynn Danielle Chytka filed bogus claims for at least 37 people saying that they had lost jobs due to the pandemic.

But, investigators determined that none of them were eligible, in fact, many of the claimants were inmates in Virginia prisons.

"I just need for this to end," Barbour said.

While we do not know who or what is responsible for Barbour's situation, she uses humor to cope with her frustration over the letters that just won't stop coming.

"I don't know if they say, oh that's a big mailbox, let's start giving her letters," Barbour said. "Give me some packages, you know, some diamonds, furs, chocolate candy."

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the fraud numbers we asked the VEC for, and as soon as we receive a response, we will share it with you.

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