The Mason County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation into two reported identity theft incidents that were reported to their office Thursday. Both incidents involved someone applying for unemployment benefits in the victim’s name.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole said these incidents are just two more to be added to the more than 20 complaints his office has had in recent weeks.

Cole said the upswing began when people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic began to apply for unemployment benefits.

“I’d strongly recommend folks to open any mailings from the State of Michigan regarding unemployment claims,” Cole said.

“Even if the recipient of the mailing didn’t apply for benefits, they should open it anyway,” he continued. “If people simply throw it away it offers a criminal the chance to use their name and information.

“These people committing the frauds have been known to go through the garbage looking for stuff like this,” he added.

“It’s troubling because then the people who really need the money aren’t getting it.”

The first complaint they received was from an individual in Hamlin Township. That complaint was reported at 2:33 p.m.

The second complaint was reported to deputies by an individual in Amber Township at 8:20 p.m.