Shell Blames IT Contractor for Benefits Fraud

Shell Oil is warning employees that a contractor used their personal information to run an unemployment-insurance-claim scam in Texas.

Shell began notifying its U.S. employees of the data breach on Friday, according to Robin Lebovitz, a Shell spokeswoman.

The company noticed early last month that someone had used Shell employee data to file fake unemployment compensation claims with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). After investigating, the company determined that an employee of a third-party contractor had misused information from a corporate database, Lebovitz said.

"The database included records for the majority of Shell United States current and former employees," she said.

The thief used employee Social Security numbers to file four false claims. Shell hasn't uncovered evidence of the data being used for any other scams, Lebovitz said.

Shell didn't name the contractor that the thief was employed by, but said the company had been hired to work on a data indexing project. After escorting the suspect from the premises, Shell terminated the contract with the company.

The crime is being investigated by Shell, the Houston police and the TWC, Lebovitz said.

Shell's U.S. headquarters are located in Houston.

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