Grand Strand residents react to unemployment overpayments

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The Palmetto State's Department of Employment and Workforce said Wednesday nearly 200 people received unearned unemployment benefits, and now residents across the Grand Strand are voicing their disgust.

According to media reports the state said 180 people claimed at least $10,000 in unearned benefits in what they're calling unemployment insurance fraud.

DEW representatives told WMBF News the names of the people being investigated are confidential, but the state will go after those identified to get the money back.

Job seekers on the Grand Strand were less than pleased to hear about the fraud, as they wait for jobless benefits themselves.

"There are a lot of people out here that work really hard to make a living and they do their best to support their family. To know that people are taking advantage of our taxpayer money and our hard-earned hours put in it's very upsetting," said Mary Cathey.

Myrtle Beach defense attorney Greg McCollum said not all people overpaid participate willfully, citing cases he's tried where clients were confused about how much they should be earning.

McCollum says that situation typically arises when someone gets benefits after losing a job and then gets part-time employment. He or she sometimes continues to collect the same benefits when the payments should be decreased.

"The person who's received the benefits really is in a position where they're going to have to pay it back. They can't receive that kind of windfall even if it was the state's mistake," said McCollum.

Willful or not, some think the accused should be held accountable.

"They need to pay it back. Go out and get a job like everybody else and let the people who can't get jobs use the benefits that they need," said Stevie Knowlin of Myrtle Beach.

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