The New York State Department of Labor has prevented more than $1 billion from falling into the hands of fraudsters during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DOL officials say they’ve identified and stopped more than 42,000 fraudulent unemployment benefit claims since mid-March.

In the last five months, the Department has referred more unemployment fraud cases to federal prosecutors that it did in the last ten years combined.

“Unfortunately, we have to fight unemployment fraud every day — not just during pandemics — but attempting to defraud the government during a global public health emergency when millions are filing legitimate claims for benefits is particularly shameful. These scammers have been stealing hardworking New Yorkers’ identities for years waiting to strike, but we will not let them succeed,” New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said.