The Labor Department’s Inspector General recently released a report updating its findings on potential unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic, and the updated numbers included about $46 billion in fraudulent losses.
Just in: @DOLOIG has announced their investigations of pandemic unemployment programs has resulted in:
🪙 1,000 indictments
🪙 400 convictions
🪙 $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent unemployment benefits
— Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) (@COVID_Oversight) September 22, 2022
In June 2021, a similar report was released by the Labor Department that estimated just over $16 billion in pandemic fraud, but that number almost tripled in the last year.
“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.”
The Inspector General office examined four types of potential fraud claims as follows: claims filed in multiple states, claims made in the name of deceased individuals, claims using suspicious email accounts, and claims filed by federal prisoners.
The memo was written by the Inspector General to the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) included this excerpt: “ETA’s lack of sufficient action significantly increases the risk of even more UI payments to ineligible claimants. 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.”
The memo is simply Turner’s opinion that the ETA is not doing its job in enforcing laws that would help mitigate, or at least slow down, the fraud that is happening within the Covid relief programs.
An accompanying press release states, “Since the pandemic started, the DOL-OIG has opened more than 190,000 investigative matters related to UI fraud, an increase of more than 1,000 times in the volume of the DOL-OIG’s UI work. With less than 140 criminal investigators, the DOL-OIG leveraged data analytics to direct its limited resources to those matters that pose the greatest risk to the UI program. The DOL- OIG is focusing on large-scale identity theft schemes involving multiple victims and organized- criminal groups, including street gangs.”
This press release admits that, unless a person is part of a large group of people scheming against the government, they are safe to defraud Covid relief money at will. The press release states that 1,000 people have been brought up on charges and 400 people have been convicted leading to 7,000 months of incarceration.
The number of convictions are dwarfed by the magnitude of the problem, and with only 400 convictions and $46 billion taken, something has to change.