Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission staff worked late into the night Monday, after lines of frustrated people wrapped around their Lincoln Boulevard office.
This happened when legitimate unemployment accounts were flagged for fraud and suspended on Friday.
The problem happened to people who use a Way2Go debit account to receive their cash unemployment benefits.
About 20% of all unemployment debit card accounts were suspended this weekend, and the OESC said in a statement that the majority of those accounts were discovered to be fraudulent.
But that still left hundreds of legitimate claimants without cash over the weekend and standing in line Monday to verify their identity with the securities commission.
Tuesday morning, more people lined up, expecting to wait long hours to get into the office.
“I was figuring at least a two hour wait. I brought my lunch here, a couple of waters,” said Blake Butler, who was waiting in line.
Butler did make it into the office, and once he was inside, he was told his account was accessible.
“They were rejoicing, and they said check your account, and I did, and it was there. The money was there,” he said.
Sometime after 6 a.m., the line began to thin out. But it’s been an ordeal for people waiting.
“Really for all this to happen, with no warning, and really no reason whatsoever, it’s ridiculous. But if they are going to fix it, that’s fine,” said Tim Caldwell, who arrived early Tuesday to wait in line.
OESC staff told News 9 once they realized how many legitimate claimants were caught up in the fraud screen, they brought in extra staff to process the flagged accounts.
They cleared legitimate claimants without verifying their identity in person, by looking for other indicators of a legitimate claim, according to OESC executive director Shelley Zumwalt.
Zumwalt said the commission will take similar action in the future if this happens again.
“If we have any indicators that what happened yesterday is looking like it could have happened, we would definitely take action like we did today to make sure we aren’t in the situation we were yesterday,” she said.
The commission continues to distribute pandemic unemployment assistance payments that were delayed due to the fraud scan. Some payments might not be available until Wednesday.
Commission staff said that this happened as a part of ongoing fraud detection efforts.
But they are unsure why so many legitimate claimants were caught up this weekend.
Pandemic unemployment assistance payments are due to expire in Oklahoma at the end of June.
People who qualify for cash unemployment assistance have to verify their identity every 90 days. If you have a legitimate claim but are still locked out of your Way2Go debit account, OESC said that might be why.