United States.. $45 billion in unemployment benefit fraud

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that more than $45 billion in unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic in the country were fraudulently sent to those who did not deserve it.

A new report by the department’s inspector general, released Thursday, revealed that between March 2020 and April 2022, unemployment benefits were fraudulently paid totaling $45.6 billion.

An earlier report published in June estimated the value of the theft at a third of that amount.

To date, over 1,000 people have been accused of being involved in these scams.

Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement that the numbers “highlight the magnitude of the problem,” noting “an unprecedented level of fraud and other unearned payments.”

The Covid pandemic devastated the US economy in March 2020 and over 20 million employees were laid off within two months.

At that time, the federal government expanded the base of recipients of unemployment benefits, and the cost and duration of these benefits increased.

The Office of the Inspector General said that “more than 57 million unemployed people were registered in five months,” explaining that the surge in claims opened a loophole for fraudsters, while state governments responsible for paying unemployment benefits found it difficult to deal with “significant increase in calls for help.” Unemployment and ensuring that it pays the right amount to the right person.

Fraudsters have pocketed unemployment benefits, especially by applying in more than one state or using the identities of deceased or incarcerated people.

The report said departments in the ministry “failed to take appropriate steps to implement” the recommendations outlined in various guidance circulars.

At the time, officials acknowledged that there were loopholes in some of the aid programs, but stressed the need to pay benefits quickly.

The departments struggled as they received an unprecedented number of demands, highlighting the weakness of their resources.

Photographs of men and women circulating at the time waited for hours to be registered in their car, as well as testimonies of people who waited weeks for a response or a document for help and were unable to pay rent or cover their day-to-day expenses.

Source: AFP.

Related Stories