The Labor Department inspector’s office reported that more than 1,000 people were charged with scam in unemployment benefits provided during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, after detecting that $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent benefits were awarded.
The watchdog previously attributed around $16 billion to duplicate payments or payments made to dead people, people with suspicious email accounts, or federal prisoners. However, this week the bureau updated its estimate and now says the federal government likely made $45.6 billion in payments.
“Hundreds of billions in pandemic funding attracted scammers looking to exploit the program, resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement.
In the first five months since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, More than 57 million people registered in the United States for the unemployment assistance programa joint federal and state initiative that constitutes the first line of action against the impact of the lack of employment.
According to the statement, the injection of billions of dollars that this program received from federal funds in the midst of the pandemic gave individuals and organized criminal groups a high-level target.
The investigations cover payments made from March 2020 to April 2022 and included $3.1 trillion that President Donald J. Trump approved in 2020, followed by a $1.9 trillion package that President Biden signed into law in 2021.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, US authorities they have opened more than 190,000 investigations for potential fraud in these aidsa figure more than 1,000 times greater than the usual volume.
Of the 1,000 people who have already been charged with fraud, “more than 400” have been sentenced to date, the statement added, according to which those sentences add up to more than 7,000 months in prison total.
There was so much unemployment fraud that even after two years of work, federal investigators are just beginning to deal with it. Authorities have said the fraud is so far-reaching that some small dollar thefts will never be prosecuted.
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