Your friend needs to contact an attorney who has dealt with unemployment fraud cases to get things straightened out. Most likely, she is going to need to pay back the money she received while she was ineligible. As long as she corrects the mistake by paying it back, she, more than likely, will not be looking at criminal charges. She will be looking at probably never being able to receive benefits again. But the last thing she will want is for someone to come looking for her. She needs to take the initiative and correct the wrong. However, I strongly urge you to guide her to an attorney, so that just in case things go hairy she won't be making any incriminating statements. As I tell my clients, "let me do the talking, or you'll just get yourself into more trouble."
Also, see the information below, from the New York State Department of Labor website.
Q: What if I want to start my own business? A: Notify the Telephone Claims Center before you take any steps to start a business. Unless you are enrolled in the Self Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), these activities may result in the loss of unemployment insurance benefits. For more information on SEAP, click here.You are considered to be employed if you are engaged in operating or starting a business either by yourself, with a partner or in a corporate arrangement. Time spent during the day or evening or on weekends preparing to start or actually operating a business may be considered employment even though no sales are made nor any compensation received.
Q: What if I work part-time? A: If you work less than four days in a week and earn $405 or less, you may receive partial benefits. Each day or part of a day of work will result in your weekly benefit rate being reduced by one-quarter. For example, if your weekly benefit rate is $100 and you work three days and earn less than $405, you could potentially receive $25 in benefits. If you work two days, you could potentially receive $50 in benefits. If you work one day, you could potentially receive $75 in benefits.Receiving partial benefits extends the length of time you may collect benefits until you receive your maximum benefit amount or until your benefit year ends, whichever comes first. If you earn over $405 in any week, regardless of the number of days worked, no benefits can be paid for that week.
Also, from the handbook:
You may be guilty of fraud if you hold back information from or give false
information to the Department of Labor. You must report the true reason you
were separated from employment. If you work while receiving benefits and do not
report that employment, even if it is part-time work, you may be committing fraud.
You must report all full-time and part-time employment to the Labor Department
or you risk criminal penalties.
It is fraud to allow someone else to certify for benefits for you by mail,
telephone or on the Internet. TEL-SERVICE is offered in English and Spanish
and we provide a translation service for other languages. There is a separate
phone number for the hearing impaired (see ‘How Do I Get My Benefits'). There
are special allowances for individuals with disabilities (see ‘Personal Identification
Number'). However, in all cases, you are responsible for the actions and answers
of your interpreter.
In all cases of fraud, we can impose civil penalties or fines. If you are
in jail or both. The felony conviction carries an even longer jail sentence.
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