By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearPolicy
A top watchdog for the U.S. Labor Department recently estimated there were at least $163 billion in unemployment-related “overpayments” from the federal government during the Covid-19 pandemic, which includes wrongly paid checks as well as “significant” benefits that were stolen.
The newest estimated figure comes as the exact scope of the fraud targeting aid — including unemployment benefits — is still unknown, The Washington Post reported.
So far, the U.S. recaptured over $4 billion of that, according to data from Labor Department in March.
That’s roughly 2.4 percent of the wrongful payments, if the government’s best estimate is accurate. It’s safe to assume this money will never be returned to the government nor to taxpayers.
The Post reported that much of the unemployment funds that were stolen were done so using real Americans’ personal information. States received numerous applications filed in the names of actual workers or people in prison.
In some cases, like in Maryland, fraudulent claims outnumbered real requests for help, The Post reported.
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With few checks in place, criminals used botnets to files thousands of applications at once with a single computer click.
They used messaging services like Telegram to “openly [swap] tips for defrauding the government,” The Post said.
The ability to commit massive fraud should never have been, and once it started, adjustments should have been made immediately to how the government awards aid.
Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.
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