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Ohio targeting prisoners who collect unemployment

State renews contract with firm that matches state databases to detect fraud.

Ohio has made it harder to collect an unemployment check while sitting in a prison cell.

After nabbing 1,500 inmates improperly collecting unemployment checks last year, the Kasich administration is renewing a contract with a firm that matches prison records against benefit checks.

The Ohio Controlling Board on Monday approved a two-year contract worth $200,726 with Appriss Inc. in Louisville, Ky.

Related: Ohio unemployment fraud more than doubles in 5 years

Launched in February 2016, the cross-matching effort found more than 1,500 prisoners getting unemployment benefit checks from Ohio and identified $867,000 in overpayments. The company also prevented an estimated $1.7 million in improper payments going out, according to the Kasich administration.

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It is the latest data-mining tactic the state uses to detect fraud.

Related: Unemployment fraud still costs state millions

Appriss takes confidential files from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services with data on unemployment claimants and matches it against national incarceration records each week. The state then checks any matches to see if booking times overlap with time when a recipient was collecting unemployment, according to contract documents.

Roughly 54,000 Ohioans are currently receiving unemployment benefits, down from 59,000 in June. Unemployment benefits are funded by payroll taxes.

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