(CBS4) – A company contracted by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment — ID.me — says it’s currently fending off international crime rings in Russia and other countries that are trying to impersonate Americans to steal unemployment dollars. ID.me provided CBS4 with pictures of fraudsters wearing costume masks to try to verify their claims.

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The company has been under public scrutiny in recent days, as many Coloradans struggle to get their identities verified with ID.me — a requirement the CDLE has enacted for unemployment claimants to qualify for benefits.

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“We’re just working around the clock to make sure that we get people access to their benefits, because we know that they’re needed, but we also want to make sure that America doesn’t lose hundreds of billions of dollars of more aid to the Russians and organized crime rings,” ID.me’s CEO Blake Hall said in an interview with CBS4’s Kati Weis. “There’s a lot of street gangs that have left the drug business, and are now targeting unemployment benefits. So there’s that side of it, too, and it’s harder to have nice things when there’s a lot of bad guys that are coming after you.”

Hall says the company also monitors the dark web, and has come across ads for criminals selling data packages full of American’s personal data to the highest bidder, even mentioning that a state will be using ID.me soon, and to buy fast.

Hall explained what some of the lingo in the dark web ad means.

“‘Pros’ is dark web slang for a bundle of demographic data, like your date of birth and your address; ‘fullz’ is a specific type of pro, it is your name your date of birth, your social your address, your email and your phone number. So a pro with a DL means they have all of your demographic information, including your SSN, plus a legitimate front back of your government ID, and that’s what they’re using to file a claim,” Hall said.

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“‘Still spamming’ means what they’re doing is they’re harvesting this data — they’re convincing elderly people that they’re going to win the prize money. They’re convincing young people that they’re going to get a job as a graphic designer and the young person shares their government ID and all their information, thinking that they’re getting hired. And so, just like a normal marketing operation for legitimate enterprise, they target the scam to the to the demographic that they’re hitting.”

According to public documents obtained by CBS4, the CDLE has paid ID.me $312,848.58 for its services so far.

The CDLE says its partnership with ID.me is critical to prevent more dollars from being paid out to criminals.

As CBS4 investigator Brian Maass exposed, the CDLE has paid as much as $30 million to fraudsters over the course of the pandemic.

Kati Weis