Shedding Light on Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Fraud
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General, Larry Turner, recently revealed that at least $191 billion in pandemic unemployment insurance payments may have been improperly paid or committed through fraud. This is an increase from the previous estimate of approximately $163 billion. The amount of payments attributed to fraud has been estimated by the Government Accountability Office to exceed $60 billion and potentially much more.
President Joe Biden has proposed to “triple our anti-fraud strike forces, double the statute of limitations on these crimes and crack down on identity fraud by criminal syndicates stealing billions of dollars from the American people.”
The House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on Wednesday titled, “The Greatest Theft of Taxpayer Dollars: Unchecked Unemployment Fraud.” This hearing will feature testimony from U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Department of Labor Inspector General Larry Turner, and Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Chair Michael Horowitz.
At the hearing, Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., the committee chair, commented on the “greatest theft of taxpayer dollars in American history.” He has called for additional oversight and said, “The new Republican majority is turning on the lights.”
The increase in fraud can be attributed to the expansion of the unemployment system during the pandemic. In order to get money out quickly, many safeguards were compromised, but now the government is attempting to recover misappropriated funds or prosecute bad actors.
The unemployment system is especially vulnerable to fraud due to the patchwork of rules and outdated technology that often become overwhelmed by the demand of the pandemic. In response to this, the federal watchdogs are asking for additional resources to combat the fraud.
It is clear that the Biden Administration and Congress are still in the dark about the total extent of pandemic unemployment benefits fraud, and the Ways and Means Committee is hoping to shed some light on the situation.
0. “Feds wasted ‘at least’ $191 billion on fake COVID unemployment claims, says Labor Department watchdog” Fox News, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/feds-wasted-billion-fake-covid-unemployment-claims-labor-department-watchdog
1. “Watchdogs say unemployment fraud likely topped $191 billion | National | thecentersquare.com” The Center Square, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.thecentersquare.com/national/watchdogs-say-unemployment-fraud-likely-topped-191-billion/article_b96d2c3a-a7c7-11ed-a3ec-132d4b3310a4.html
2. “Unemployment Insurance: DOL Needs to Address Substantial Pandemic UI Fraud and Reduce Persistent Risks” Government Accountability Office, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-106586
3. “Ways and Means to Hold Hearing on The Greatest Theft of Taxpayer Dollars: Unchecked Unemployment Fraud …” Ways and Means Committee, 7 Feb. 2023, https://waysandmeans.house.gov/ways-and-means-to-hold-hearing-on-the-greatest-theft-of-taxpayer-dollars-unchecked-unemployment-fraud/
4. “House Ways and Means Committee Holds Hearing on Unemployment Fraud” The Epoch Times, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.theepochtimes.com/house-ways-and-means-committee-holds-hearing-on-unemployment-fraud_5041014.html
5. “COVID-related unemployment fraud may total $191B” Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.businessreport.com/business/covid-related-unemployment-fraud-may-total-191b
6. “Federal official warns $191 billion in COVID unemployment aid may have been misspent” Stars and Stripes, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.stripes.com/theaters/us/2023-02-08/house-hearing-covid-aid-fraud-9077233.html
7. “At least $191 billion in pandemic jobless benefits improperly paid, watchdog tells Congress” WICZ, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.wicz.com/story/48344315/at-least-191-billion-in-pandemic-jobless-benefits-improperly-paid-watchdog-tells-congress
8. “Estimate of misspent Covid unemployment payments leaps to $191B” Yahoo Entertainment, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/estimate-misspent-covid-unemployment-payments-162853939.html
9. “Cost Rises in Mishandling of COVID-19 Unemployment Payments” Newsmax, 8 Feb. 2023, https://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/unemployment-benefit-payments-covid-19-pandemic/2023/02/08/id/1107841/
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