Years from now the American Rescue Plan, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, is just as likely to be remembered for its record levels of fraud as it is to be remembered for actually helping anyone; $1.9 trillion dollars was approved by Biden —billions were stolen by scammers.
As previously reported by The Drill Down, the massive handout has been an easy target for scammers. For example, according to a report from the Washington Post, more than $163 billion dollars in pandemic unemployment relief has been stolen. “It’s obviously substantial,” Roy Dotson, the national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator at the U.S. Secret Service, said in an interview. “I can’t really get into the number … we’re all trying to figure that out.”
In some states, fraudulent claims even outnumbered actual claims.
Now we’re learning the Department of Labor Inspector General suspects at least $45 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims have been handed out since March 2020.
“A new report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) addressed its concern with the Employment and Training Agency (ETA) failing to respond to previous reports that billions of dollars in fraudulent claims were being paid and for failing to provide accurate and timely information,” Fox News reports.
Scammers have been using social security numbers to register for relief in multiple states, on behalf of the deceased, and even posing as incarcerated Americans.
In other words, it’s a mess.
“ETA’s lack of sufficient action significantly increases the risk of even more UI payments to ineligible claimants,” the OIG wrote in its report. “Our identification of the additional potentially fraudulent payments emphasizes the need for increased ETA engagement and assistance to mitigate fraud and protect the UI program’s integrity.”
More than 1,000 individuals have been charged for making fraudulent claims.
“This milestone of 1,000 individuals being charged with crimes involving UI fraud and the identification of $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent UI payments highlights the magnitude of this problem,” Inspector General Larry D. Turner said in a statement.
“Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the UI program — resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Turner added.