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Some waiting for funding, others committing fraud

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UPDATE 9:30 a.m. June 3, 2020: Workforce West Virginia reached out with a statement after the story aired.

Elizabeth Hippchen’s story is an example of where there were was information needing clarification before payment processing.

All issues were resolved and she will be receiving her payments due to her this week.

ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) — Nearly three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, some people still have not received unemployment benefits.

The CARES Act gives unemployed workers an extra $600, which could possibly end in July. This worries independent contractors like Elizabeth Hippchen, owner of “The Parlor” in St. Albans, who says she is still waiting to see some financial relief.

In May, WOWK 13 News Reporter Cassidy Wood visited with Hippchen to talk about the frustrations of filing for assistance for independent contractors. Weels later, she says she has still received nothing.

“I drained my business savings to keep afloat,” she says. “I paid rent. I didn’t charge my booth renters because I didn’t feel that’s right.”

Hippchen applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. She went back to work May 4, was honest about her earnings, and she’s not received any money. She says no one has responded to her repeated calls to find out why. 

“I mean last I heard, there are about 2,000 people with this issue,” she says.

Hippchen had to close her doors for two months. She hopes she can receive the back pay of financial aid she believes she deserves, which she says is around $4,000. As she investigated why certain independent contractors were getting money, she discovered something.

“Basically, if an independent contractor returned to work May 4th, and did receive their PUA, they were not upfront and honest about what they made that week,” she says.

But just because they have received money now, doesn’t mean they got off scot-free.

“Amid this historic surge in claims, there are issues and concerns arising about fraudulent activity,” says Andy Malinoski with Workforce West Virginia. “Yes, there are cases being investigated where people are committing fraud and taking advantage of the system and the benefits that are being made available to people during this time.”

Even though the bad guys may get caught, the good guys like Hippchen are still waiting for answers.

“I won’t stop calling,” she says. “I am not stopping until I get answers.”

If you suspect someone is committing fraud, you can call the hotline number at 1-(800)-319-1036.

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