Government Watchdog Highlights Fraudulent Unemployment Payments From Lockdown

Fraudsters could have stolen close to a staggering $60 billion out of the varied unemployment insurance programs which had been started by lockdown-era stimulus bills, according to a recent report which has been made public by the Government Accountability Office.

State workforce groups, which have been responsible for monitoring and dealing with unemployment programs, have officially issued a report stating that there has been $4.3 billion in fraud between the period of April 2020 and June 2022. Another fraud measure, which includes a number of cases that have been flagged by officials from the Labor Department as possible fraud, could end up highlighting close to $45 billion in fraudulent payments between March 2020 and April 2022. jumping off from another lower-bound estimate coming from the group, which claimed that at least 7.6% of regular unemployment insurance payments were entirely fraudulent, would mean that a lowball estimate could be $60 billion.

“Current measures and estimates do not reflect the full extent of fraud, but they do provide important insights on fraud risks,” according to a number of posts from the Government Accountability Office. “And while fraud risks increased as a result of the pandemic, some will remain long after if not addressed.”

close to $878 billion was handed out through unemployment insurance programs between April 2020 and September 2022. “The unprecedented demand for benefits and the need to implement the new programs quickly increased the risk of financial fraud,” the agency went on.

Officials with the Department of Justice have been attempting to take efforts to retrieve the fraudulently obtained taxpayer money. One example highlighted in the report noted that a former employee for a state workforce agency made use of other people’s identities to put in close to 200 fraudulent applications; the individual was then pushed to return close to $4.3 million in the form of restitution and is expected to spend a period of five years in prison. In another instance, one person used stolen information to put in at least 300 applications all over the country and will end up spending more than three years in prison in the wake of paying a fine of $1.6 million.

Other bold-faced examples of this unemployment insurance fraud include a rapper who bragged about his illegal scheme within a music video, as well as a number of both former and current employees of the IRS who abused their jobs to ensure their access to the funds.

“American families, whose wages have eroded under President Biden’s inflation crisis, have watched as hundreds of billions of their hard-earned tax dollars were lost to criminal activity and fraud because Democrats refused to acknowledge the problem and repeatedly rejected Republican efforts to put basic safeguards in place to protect against this activity,” explained House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO). “Congressional Democrats walked away from their oversight responsibilities of getting to the bottom of how this happened, what they could do to prevent it, and even how much has fully been lost, leaving criminals to profit off the backs of taxpayers.”

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