Inspector General's Office probing DMV cheating allegations
Brendan J. Lyons is reporting for the Times Union the state inspector general's office is investigating allegations of widespread cheating in the state's driver permit program, involving a scheme to illegally obtain driving credentials for undocumented people. It is further alleged that those involved may have used the licenses to establish residency and receive unemployment benefits under the state's newly established Excluded Worker Fund. Investigators from the inspector general's office visited the Albany office of the state Department of Motor Vehicles in October and interviewed employees about suspected rampant cheating that took place in a licensing program enacted during the coronavirus pandemic that allowed people to take the driver's permit test online. The investigators told DMV workers they suspected people had been paying $3,000 or more to have someone take the online driver's permit tests for them, and were also using fraudulent residency documents and fake mailing addresses. A spokesperson for the inspector general's office this week confirmed the office "has an ongoing investigation into possible misuse of the DMV's driver's permits program," but declined further comment. In early October, advocates complained that too many New Yorkers were being frozen out of the program. It is unclear when the suspected fraud was detected, or whether the Department of Labor is involved in the inspector general's investigation. The agency did not respond to questions about the matter. State Sen. Jessica Ramos, who was a leading sponsor for the creation of the Excluded Workers Fund, could not immediately be reached for comment. At the time the legislation passed in April, Ramos had said it would benefit about 500,000 workers who had been ineligible for unemployment assistance. Read the full story in the Times Union.