RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Employment Commission revealed the agency has drastically reduced the number of fraud unemployment claims, while other types are trending in the opposite direction.

Years after a state audit revealed the Virginia Employment Commission wasn’t fully equipped to handle the number of claims received during the pandemic, the agency is still working to investigate thousands of claims.

Several Virginians, including Martell Holmes are still waiting for an answer from the agency.

“I’ve tried everything I can. You know, I just really haven’t got a response,” Holmes said.

In January of 2022 when Governor Glenn Youngkin took office, there were more than 250,000 paid and unpaid claims waiting to be reviewed for potential fraud. By September of 2022, that number was reduced to over 90,000 claims. In a recent update, a spokesperson form the commission said about 550 people are still waiting for review.

Previously, the agency implemented upgrades to improve backlogs but experienced glitches after its launch. A spokesperson from the agency said that adjustments have been made to its Claimant Self Service Portal over the last two years.

“Most of the issues experienced by customers revolved around identity verification. VEC is continuously working to thwart fraudulent activity and because of this stringent identity verification, some claimants experienced difficultly logging in. We are continuously monitoring this issue daily, and making adjustments that are leading to positive improvements as is evidenced by a 73% increase in initial claims filed online since the beginning of this year.”

Despite the drop in paid and unpaid claims, disputed claims have nearly doubled compared to last year, totaling 5,600 overall. There are also 49,358 first-level appeals.

“It’s kind of crazy. I just been trying to be patient, but I just kind of feel like, you know, something should have been done by now,” said Holmes.

A spokesperson from the commission said they cannot speak on Holmes’ case and will contact him directly about his claim. Holmes tells us he has yet to receive a response.

In September, Governor Glenn Youngkin picked Demetrios Melis to oversee the agency and replace former commissioner Carrie Roth.

8News requested an interview with Melis, which was denied. Instead the commissioner sent 8News the following statement:

“Today, the VEC operates with much more agility than it ever has. Our objective is to continue improving our operational efficiencies and customer service for today and position the VEC to be resilient and able to quickly and effectively meet future demands.”

Demetrios Melis