Fraudsters illegally stole some $45.6 billion in unemployment benefits in the United States during the pandemic. That reports a federal labor authority in the US, writes the Washington Post and international news agencies. The amount is significantly higher than the $ 16 billion that authorities discovered last year.
The benefits program was set up under the Donald Trump administration in the early months of the pandemic with the aim of helping approximately 57 million families. Besides the fact that the allowances kept increasing, more and more people, such as flex workers, were also eligible for the benefits. As the number of unemployed people in the United States also increased, a total of nearly $900 billion in unemployment benefits was paid during the pandemic.
However, not everyone who received a benefit was entitled to it. In hundreds of thousands of cases, the social security numbers of deceased people were used to apply for benefits. Other scammers allegedly made applications in multiple states or used the identities of inmates, while this group was not entitled to benefits.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, federal unemployment bureaus were beset by high unemployment during the pandemic, with poor administration, underpaid staff and outdated computers to process applications. Authorities expect the billions to rise in the coming weeks as the investigation into the fraud continues. Thousands of Americans have now been charged with insurance fraud during the pandemic.