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  • Writer's pictureMonet Wright

DO NOT Contact Maryland Department of Labor Via Telegram-IT'S A SCAM!!

Updated: May 30, 2023



I lost my job in July of 2020, just like thousands of other Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. After losing my job I decided to file for unemployment, which I'd NEVER done in the past. Little did I know, filing for unemployment would begin an avalanche of misfortune.

The Maryland Department of Labor, my state delegates, and the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, have been unable and/or unwilling to assist me.


But I know you are wondering...what avalanche of misfortune? How did you get that screenshot?

What led me to a sketchy Telegram chat and almost getting scammed?


For that answer, we'd have to start at the beginning! And don't worry, if you just want to read the Telegram chat, that is okay. But you will miss what lead me and many other unemployed individuals to getting scammed and almost getting scammed.


In December of 2020, I contacted the MD Dept. of Labor via their 677 number to speak with a "Claims Agent" to inform them that I am unable to file my weekly certification (for you employed folk-that just means I was unable to submit the form online to receive my money).


After speaking with the "Claim's Agent" I was told that I would need to re-apply for benefits, something about them coming up on a new quarter, blah, blah, blah.

I won't bore you with the details, unless you want me to, lol.

Long story short, after speaking with that "Claim's Agent" I was placed on two programs, PUA and PEUC.

TRANSLATION: The "Claim's Agent" basically signed me up for unemployment again which caused me to show up in their system as being on two programs.


Little did I know, a month after this happened, my unemployment benefits (my money, scrilla, dough, cash, funds, duckets) were put on HOLD.

My funds have been on HOLD since February 2021.


No, I have not received a dime from Maryland unemployment since then.


Yes, I called daily to try to resolve the issue.


🎲Let's play a quick game, what do you think the response I received the most from the various "Claim's Agent's" I spoke to was:





Around February 2021 I called and spoke with another "Claim's Agent" named Anita who was able to assist me, so I thought. When I explained my issue to her, she contacted her supervisor who directed her to speak with a State Representative with Beacon. (To everyone on unemployment who read that last line & said whhhattt? Yeah!!!)


The State Rep for Beacon actually cleared my portal!! I was ecstatic! They cleared my profile which took me off of the two programs.

Now, all I had to do was log back in and file the weekly certifications for the weeks I was missing.


When I logged into Beacon, not only was I cleared from the two different programs but all of my previous weekly certifications were gone too. This meant that my Beacon portal was showing that I never EVER filed a claim, it was completely blank.


What did I do? I called back into the MD Dept. of Labor to speak with a "Claim's Agent". I explained my issue and was assured she could just re-add the weeks I was missing.


I hung up the phone and after waiting a few minutes I logged back into Beacon. Upon logging in I was prompted to re-file for my unemployment benefits from July 2020 all the way to the current week of Feb 2021.


I tried contacting the MD Dept. of Labor to speak with a "Claim's Agent" again and explain the issue. I was told to just go through and file the claims and the system would sort itself out.

THIS WAS A LIE!! After going through and refiling my weekly certifications within minutes I received an email saying: Important BEACON Portal Notification - Action Requested.

I quickly logged back into Beacon and clicked to view my messages.


This is what the letter said:



All I could think was WTF?!?!?! I tried calling over and over to speak with various "Claim's Agent's" who all gave me the same response, "all we can do is submit a ticket so another team can look into this for you."


I was even told they would ESCALATE it during one phone call, which was in March 2021, it's now rolling into Memorial Day!


My Beacon Portal has been looking like the picture below for months now, with no resolution.


I even called back in to try to speak with a State Rep with Beacon again. All of the "Claim's Agents" I spoke with said, "we have no way of contacting Beacon, I'm not sure why that rep told you that!"


And that brings us to just a few weeks before the whole Telegram Scam thing happened.


I was researching online to see if other people were experiencing the same issues with unemployment and to my horror, THOUSANDS WERE!!

After looking online, a few Reddit posts and blog posts later I found myself on Twitter, tweeting Larry Hogan and others asking questions and seeking resolution. My tweets went unanswered, minus some retweets and likes.


One person commented that I should try reaching out to my State Delegate, which I did. Long story short, they filled out the same form online to contact the MD Dept. of Labor I'd used countless times. USELESS!!!


Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and more and more unemployed Americans, especially in Maryland, were complaining about their accounts being on hold, unable to reach a "Claim's Agent" and more!


After a deep-dive into some Twitter comments, I saw a person(who we now know is in cahoots with the scammers or are the scammers themselves) commenting on certain Twitter user's profiles who were complaining about the MD Dept. of Labor, directing them to contact the Dept. of Labor via a link(copy of tweet below).



Now, some of you may be thinking, why would anyone follow the guidance of a random Twitter user? Well, ask yourself this question: Have you ever been on unemployment during a pandemic, and while on unemployment have your payments been put on HOLD for over 6 months?! Oh!


With high hopes, I clicked the link dear Alicia sent and was directed to a Telegram message app.


The Telegram user had the same picture that the MD Dept of Labor uses for its Twitter(it's a picture of the Maryland flag).


I was immediately asked to provide my ID and social security number which immediately made me question if this was actually the MD Dept. of Labor I was speaking with.


NOTE: No one should ever ask for your FULL social security number. The last 4 digits will do but I prefer using another form of identification like my Claimant ID (the number assigned to you when filing for unemployment benefits).


I told them I would provide my claimant ID, not ss# or ID. Then I was told providing my ID and social security number was the only way to move forward and be verified.

So I figured, hell, I was just going to finish up some JavaScript projects to add to my portfolio but I could always use some hacking and Social Engineering practice.

So, I played along, for 5 long hours, I kept in contact with the scammers. I even had an hour-long technical interview in the middle of all of this!!


You can scroll down to read the entire interaction but basically, in order to keep the scammer's attention, I had to create a fake ID, fake social security number, and burner phone.


The funniest part of my entire interaction with the scammers was when they tried calling me! Yes, they tried to video call me so that when I answered my face would show up. I had something better, I called them, and recorded my screen.

The video is below. SPOILER ALERT: They did not show their face just their computer screen. (Side note: the only thing I didn't do was hack their phone and turn their camera around so I could see their face, soon come..)





5 Hours of Scam Baiting FULL MESSAGE THREAD With MD Dept. of Labor Scammer





To be honest, this was not the first time a scammer has used Telegram to contact me and countless others, pretending to be someone else. The first time I was introduced to Telegram was when I was contacted by a recruiter with Automattic. Which of course turned out to be a scam. Again, they used the picture of the person they were impersonating and sent me documents to fill out to send back to them. They even asked me questions like I was having an interview!


Study this message thread, understand the scammer's mistakes and methods. Use that information to keep yourself and others from being scammed online. Despite what people tell you, getting scammed online is easier than you think. The smallest amount of information can leave you exposed.

Don't worry, with education and training you can protect yourself and improve your computer literacy in minutes!



🚩Red Flags:

How to spot a scammer!


In the beginning, during, and after my interaction, I noticed a lot of red flags. Red flags that made it clear that I was speaking with someone pretending to be the MD Dept. of Labor.

Hopefully, the following red flags will help you spot a scammer BEFORE you fall victim to a scam and prevent things like this from happening in the future.


In the beginning, I was already on guard because of the method in which I was directed to the Telegram app.

🚩Some random Twitter user

🚩No picture

🚩No followers

🚩No one following them

🚩No tweets

🚩Just joined Twitter in April of 2021


During the interaction, scammers always have "tells" which makes it painfully obvious that they are scammers.

🚩They immediately asked for my social security number along with the front and back of my ID.

🚩I contacted them at 7:27 pm and they contacted me at 11:55 pm.

🚩In true scammer fashion, they typed in broken English and broken sentences.

🚩Checking to see if I was still with them in chat, CONSTANTLY.

🚩Rude

🚩Impatient


After my interaction, I was left feeling satisfied that I wasted a significant amount of their time, which meant they were unable to interact with other potential victims. They ended their chat with me enraged because they realized I baited them, wasted their time and they were unable to get any authentic information from me they could use.



How Do Internet Scammers Get Away With It?



Spoiler Alert: Victims of scams are too embarrassed to report they've fallen for a scam. Think about it! Did you tell your family about the money you sent to that Nigerian Prince?

Too ashamed huh?

I've reported fraud to the police before and trust me, I felt more shame and intimidation than resolution. And no, they didn't help me. It was just a police report.


Another reason scammers get away is the poor reporting system. The way you have to report a crime is primitive and doesn't provide any retribution for the victim(s).

It's quite uneventful, to say the least!


After reporting the various users on both Twitter and Telegram I am confident that will not immediately help current and/or pending victims.


That is what lead me to write this detailed blog post exposing myself, the scammers, the MD Dept. of Labor, Telegram, Twitter, my state delegates, and the state governor.


The lack of protection on the internet, across various platforms and apps, has allowed scammers to bread rapidly and go without punishment.


This must end!

If you (big business) want our data, PRIORITIZE DATA SECURITY!


I will leave you with this because this article said it best:


"There is also a strong stigma attached to falling prey to scams. Victims are often blamed for their own circumstances and losses. This exacerbates the suffering they’ve experienced at the hands of the offender.

It’s important to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of this type of fraud and the methods used by offenders to target victims. Promoting a culture in which we can openly talk about fraud without judgment or blame is critical to achieving this."

Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Queensland University of Technology









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