Incidents of fraud crimes are on the rise in Illinois.

QuoteWizard, an online insurance marketplace, released a new report on fraud cases and reports that Illinois had the third biggest increase in the country in fraud-related losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only Nebraska and South Dakota had bigger increases.

Lead researcher Nick VinZant said Illinois saw a 160% increase in the amount of money lost through scams.

“That is going from $35 million in 2019 to about $93 million in 2020. That is a massive increase,” VinZant said.

Most of the reports of fraud involved identity theft. Other cases included imposter scams, fraud involving credit bureaus, online shopping scams, and banking scams.

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VinZant said Illinois’ unemployment issues played a part in the state resident’s losses.

“With the pandemic, we had a lot more people on unemployment, so we saw an increase in job and unemployment-related fraud,” VinZant said. “We had a lot more people that were getting stimulus payments and government relief programs, and criminals were able to take advantage of that.”

The Illinois Department of Employment Service announced in February it had identified more than one million fraudulent claims. Prior to the pandemic, benefit program fraud most often came from individual, dishonest applicants. This past year was different, both in the number of claims filed and the coordinated attempts of criminals to attack the system and its recipients.

From millions to hundreds of millions of dollars, the increase in fraud has affected every state differently. California had the highest total loss at over $400 million, while North Dakota lost around $3 million.

Fraud cost Americans more than $2.3 billion in 2020, a 97% increase over 2019.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio / www.AltonDailyNews.com)