More than 144,000 Oklahomans filed unemployment claims in 2012, including hundreds living behind bars.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission compared information on inmates with those collecting unemployment from Nov. 2012 through May 2013.The OESC discovered 686 inmates illegally collected unemployment during that time, totaling $255,700.
"It's not what we might refer to as a pervasive problem," said John Carpenter with OESC. "We really don't want it to become one. We want to do our best to prevent this as much as possible and to let people know, you might as well not even try. It's not going to work."
Oklahoma is now in the process of hiring a company to regularly check unemployment records with inmates, so this doesn't happen again.
The numbers may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $450 million our state pays out for unemployment benefits a year. The problem isn't isolated to Oklahoma. Nationwide, some reports show incarcerated crooks have collected more than $13 billion a year.
Here's a list of states or cities that have been audited:
475 inmates received $1.1 million
1100 inmates received $2 million
June 2008-Junuary 2011
30 inmates received $175,000
Over 3 month span in 2011
100 inmates received $2 million
Inmates received $5 million
July 2009-April 2011
7600 inmates received $11 million
126 inmates received $465,000
1162 inmates received $7 million
944 inmates received $1.3 million
1764 inmates received $3.4 million
26 inmates received $150,000
July 2012-July 2013
593 inmates received $616,000