Stiffer Criminal Penalties for UI Benefit Fraud

(2017 Wisconsin Act 147)

The existing penalties for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit fraud include repayment of fraudulently obtained benefits, reductions in future UI benefits, civil forfeitures, court fines and jail time. Even with this array of penalties, UI benefit fraud continues to be a multimillion dollar problem in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has advised state lawmakers that the current criminal penalties for UI benefit fraud – a maximum fine of $500, 90 days in jail, or both – are not enough to convince local District Attorneys to prosecute UI benefit fraud cases.

2017 Wisconsin Act 147 created a new criminal penalty structure based on the amount of money that a person fraudulently receives in UI benefit payments and provides that multiple violations can be charged as a single crime. The new penalties range from a fine of up to $10,000 and\or 9 months in prison to a $25,000 fine and\or 10 years in prison.

Local prosecutors have a new, powerful tool to combat UI benefit fraud and we hope they will put it to good use.