(Mark Pellin, Headline USA) The White House that is still trying to decide if the pandemic is over while scheming for more pandemic funding, admitted this week to a gross miscalculation about the amount of unemployment fraud that has plagued the COVID relief program.
The Labor Department inspector general announced Thursday that fraudsters and criminal gangs had plundered nearly $46 billion in bogus unemployment claims during the pandemic, while warning that the actual total may climb higher.
The $46 billion is a staggering $30 billion higher than the previous fraud estimate the Labor Department provided last June, which concluded $16 billion had been stolen.
A federal watchdog said $45.6 billion may have been stolen from a U.S. unemployment insurance program meant to help people laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic
Now we know how people cheat on voting too. This is exactly what they do. https://t.co/bdpi0BRDdi
— MarketMaven (@PortiaRedux) September 23, 2022
The criminals who had been keeping so busy tapped myriad fraudulent streams to bilk the system, including bogus email accounts and Social Security numbers of dead people and of federal prisoners ineligible for unemployment benefits.
About 205,000 Social Security numbers that apparently belonged to zombies were used to secure claims, the inspector general’s report revealed. Another million or so Social Security numbers were used by people who illegally filed for benefits in two or more states, resulting in nearly $29 billion siphoned from more than one state.
Upwards of 206,000 Social Security numbers of deceased people were used to receive more than $139 million in potentially fraudulent benefits, while 1.7 million Social Security numbers linked to suspicious email addresses were used to file for $16.2 billion in benefits.
Officials said the sheer volume of cash being doled out for COVID relief funding overwhelmed enforcement agents and opened the door for massive fraud. They said funding for more enforcement agents was needed.
“Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the UI program — resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement.
“I am extremely proud of how our team has responded to this unprecedented crisis, despite significant resource constraints and data access issues.”
Against that backdrop, the inspector general’s office also announced Thursday that it had charged more than 1,000 people for unemployment fraud since March 2020, producing about 400 convictions.
The IG has opened more than 190,000 investigations into unemployment benefits fraud, the report said, an increase of more than 1,000 times in the volume of the office’s unemployment insurance work.
“Follow the $” tweeted Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., in response to the IG’s announcement.
“We lost $45.6B in unemployment fraud during the pandemic, yet Dems still want to spend MORE on COVID,” Tuberville wrote. “We can’t afford more reckless spending that doesn’t fix the problem.”
How about the DOJ go after thieves who stole Covid moneys instead of spinning their wheels chasing innocent J6 victims?
What do you think? https://t.co/FXbgQDr17V
— 🇺🇸Conservative🇺🇸 (@ConservetiveOne) September 23, 2022