LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's unemployment agency wants to charge anyone who fraudulently receives unemployment benefits a 25 percent penalty, in addition to paying the money back.

Department of Employment and Workforce officials asked a Senate panel Wednesday for legislation that mandates a penalty higher than federal law requires.

Agency attorney Maura Dawson says Congress has required states to pass by October a law setting at least a 15 percent penalty. She says her agency would use the additional money for technology updates and to investigate and prosecute cases of unemployment fraud.

According to the agency, it recouped $9.2 million in overpayments between January and May of last year.

The federal labor department says 4 percent of South Carolina's payments were due to fraud in 2012, down from 7 percent in 2011.

Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/crime/2014/07/01/10969312/