Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Lacamas Magazine. It is published here with permission from and full attribution to Lacamas Magazine (www.LacamasMagazine.com) and Editor Ernie Geigenmiller.

BREAKING NEWS — According to Senator Ann Rivers (18th Legislative District), whose office was briefed June 3 by the Employment Security Department (ESD), the unemployment check fraud case is now approaching $1 billion in lost state funds.

Originally, the suspected fraud loss was $350 million.

“The ESD fraud case is beyond anything originally suspected,” said Rivers. “Nearly $1 billion has been lost to Nigeria and other fraudsters.”

Rivers said the people of Washington have been subject to a series of data breaches over the last several years, which includes Zappos, Primera Blue Cross, and Equifax. This past year, Rivers was the Senate Republican lead on the Data Privacy Bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, but was blocked in the House.

Sen. Ann Rivers
Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18)

“I knew this was going to be a problem,” said Rivers. “The partisan breakdown in the House is what killed this bill. I worked it very hard. I knew we had to act, and this is unfortunate.”

The bill would have locked down the state’s consumer data to prevent hacking, requiring two-factor authentication, among other security measures.

“The hackers have been waiting for the right moment to attack an underprepared Employment Security Division,” said Rivers. “COVID gave them that opportunity. My office was overwhelmed with calls of people needing help filing unemployment.”

Today, Rivers was notified by ESD that each caucus can help only 20 people per week. 

“I was able to get in and help people get the unemployment benefits they deserve, and I was told by ESD I can only help one person a week,” Rivers said. “This is ludicrous. Period. That’s like saying to a mother with five children on the Titanic she now must choose her favorite child.”

Rivers said the state needs to act.

“It’s not enough to label the problem, we need to change the leadership to right this ship,” said Rivers. “Families desperately need this money and they’re not getting it.”

Suzie LaVine is the current ESD Director. 

Rivers is pushing for a special legislative session in June, and that the Republican caucus will demand LaVine’s termination. 

More to come as the story develops.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by Lacamas Magazine. It is published here with permission from and full attribution to Lacamas Magazine (www.LacamasMagazine.com) and Editor Ernie Geigenmiller.

Mario Lotmore

Mario Lotmore is originally from The Bahamas and for the last seven years has called Mukilteo, WA his home. Having lived in every region of the United States has exposed him to various cultures, people, and approaches to life. Lotmore created the Lynnwood Times to represent the character of a diverse and growing Lynnwood. The launching of the city’s free community newspaper will only help bring neighborhoods together. Lotmore was an industrial engineer by trade and proven success implementing and managing lean accountable processes and policies within his eighteen years of operations excellence, strategic development, and project management in the aerospace, manufacturing, and banking industries. Over his career he has saved and created hundreds of union and non-union jobs. Lotmore is the President of a Homeowner Association, an active Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics volunteer in his community, and former Boeing 747 Diversity Council leader. Mario’s talent is finding “that recipe” of shared destiny to effectively improve the quality of life for others.

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