Missoula Crime Report: Fraud of COVID Unemployment Benefits
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 20 felony offenses this week, which is six more than last week and significantly higher than the weekly average. Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings appeared on KGVO’s Talk Back show on Friday and he provided a report.
“We had five violent crimes, which is about on average,” Jennings said. “We had one endangerment crime. These usually involve something like driving behavior or fleeing or eluding law enforcement. We had six property crimes, five drug crimes, and three administrative crimes. These are often a failure to register as a violent offender or a fugitive coming here from out of state.”
According to Jennings, we continue to see an influx of Fentanyl in our community.
“That seems to be one of the drugs of choice for addicts,” Jennings said. “It is emerging as more of a problem than heroin and maybe even more than meth at the moment. The amounts that we are seeing with people that are getting arrested are very alarming. We are always working with our law enforcement and various other agencies to make sure that we are doing what we can to protect our community because we are seeing a lot of overdoses and other criminal behavior that spins off of that drug use.”
Jennings also wanted to point out that there were some major property crimes this week.
“We are seeing more and more sophisticated phishing schemes where people target businesses in our community to get money from them while pretending to be someone else,” Jennings said. “We had a few instances this week that were really heartbreaking for our local businesses because you can’t always know that you’re being taken advantage of when we do so many financial transactions online and on the phone.”
In addition, there were a couple of cases this week that had to do with fraud of unemployment insurance benefits during COVID.
“A vast majority of people did everything right,” Jennings said. “They were responsible and they were truthful. However, if we find that people weren’t, we are going to hold them responsible. That is money that wage earners, employees, and taxpayers pay into a program that is really supposed to help people in need. We don’t take it very lightly if somebody is taking advantage of that money and getting something they are not supposed to.”
You can listen to Jennings’ full report below: