On Thursday, the Department of Labor announced that 1,000 people were arrested for receiving $45.6 billion fraudulently in unemployment insurance (UI) payments between March 2020 – March 2020.
The DOL-OIG reported that 57 million people had filed initial UI claims within the first five months of March 2020. These figures were in addition to the state offices that distribute benefits. Fraudsters used fraudulent emails to file claims in multiple states and to use Social Security Numbers (SSNs), federal prisoners, and deceased people to file for benefits.
CNBC reported that between March 2020 and July 2021, $794 was paid by the federal government and the state governments in unemployment benefits. This fraud, which totaled $45.6 billion, would amount to approximately 5.75% of pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
In a press release, Inspector General Larry Turner said, that 1,000 people have been charged with fraud in connection to UI. ”
BREAKING – Labor Department IG claims $45.6B was stolen from unemployment insurance program using social security numbers for prisoners and deceased
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) September 22, 2022
In its report, the DOL-OIG stated that the program was misused with personally identifiable information by individuals as well as organized criminal organizations. To create a national database for UI records, the DOL-OIG subpoenaed records of every state.
Since the pandemic, more than 190,000.000 investigations were opened into UI fraud. With less than 140 criminal investigators, the organization was forced to focus on organized crime and “large-scale fraud schemes”.
According to the DOL OIG, 11 “members” or “associates of the gang” were convicted of taking approximately $4.3million in UI benefits. It is unclear if any of the money was recovered by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
President Joe Biden thanked the CHIPs Act, which was recently passed, for helping to “build America’s future.” It provided $50 billion in incentives for U.S. manufacturing companies, which is $4.4 billion more than the fraud reported by DOL OIG on Thursday.
The DOL-OIG declined to comment, and the DOJ did not immediately respond to our request for comment either.