Representative Thomas Bennett noted his disappointment towards the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s mishandled funds.

“Records show IDES lost $1.2 million in taxpayer money to fraudsters,” Bennett wrote on Facebook.

In a May 13 report, CBS 2 announced that IDES had lost $1.2 million of taxpayer funds to fraud during the pandemic.

"On January 10, CBS 2 filed an appeal with the Illinois Attorney General's Office, asking the agency to review IDES’ denial for potential FOIA violations. That process revealed what IDES originally told CBS 2 wasn't true: the agency does track how much it has paid back claimants due to fraud.

As a result, on March 31, IDES was forced to send the data to CBS 2. It contains information on more than 1,000 tracers that were filed by claimants from January 2021 through March of this year. That’s more than 1,000 times IDES paid people back after they reported they never received their benefits.

“I have sent them my Social Security card and my driver’s license at least six or seven times in various departments,” Sharon Thomas, who lives in Midlothian, Ill., said in March to CBS News. “And when you phone there, you can’t get the same person twice — you’re put into a call system that, whenever somebody’s free, they call you next. And I just kept waiting and hoping.”

In October 2021, Representative Dan Caulkins sounded the alarm about IDES seemingly ignoring claimants who needed help.

At that time, claimants were being told they would have to pay back the benefits they’d been paid. 

“They were able to quickly process fraudulent claims worth hundreds of millions, but couldn’t talk to those desperate for help,” Caulkins posted on Twitter. “How did it happen? Let the sunshine in.”

Thomas told CBS News IDES transferred money into a different account, even though she’s brought it to their attention.

By February 2022, state leaders had identified more than 1 million affected by fraud through IDES, and while claimants were willing to talk to the media, IDES didn’t want to chat.