The US Department of Labor announced yesterday (Thursday) that more than $ 45 billion in unemployment benefits went fraudulently to people who did not deserve it during the “Covid” outbreak and the large numbers of workers laid off due to the repercussions of the pandemic.
A new report from the ministry’s inspector general, published yesterday (Thursday), showed that between March 2020 and April 2022, a total of $45.6 billion in unemployment benefits was disbursed fraudulently, according to “AFP”.
An earlier report, published in June, had estimated the value of these embezzlement at one-third of that amount.
So far, more than a thousand people have been charged with their involvement in these frauds.
Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement that the numbers “underscore the extent of the problem,” noting “unprecedented levels of fraud and other unearned payments.”
The Covid pandemic ravaged the US economy in March of 2020. Within two months, more than 20 million employees were laid off. At that time, the federal government expanded the base of unemployment benefits recipients, and the value and duration of these benefits increased.
The Office of the Inspector General stated that within five months, more than 57 million unemployed persons had been registered.
But the influx of demands opened a loophole for fraudsters while state governments responsible for paying unemployment benefits were struggling to deal with “the huge increase in the number of unemployment benefits claims and making sure they pay the right amount to the right person,” according to the same source.
The fraudsters embezzled unemployment assistance, especially by applying in more than one state, or by exploiting the identities of deceased or imprisoned persons.
The report stated that the ministry’s departments “did not take sufficient steps to implement” the recommendations issued in the various guidance circulars. Officials acknowledged at the time that some aid programs had loopholes, but stressed the need for benefits to be disbursed quickly.
The departments faced difficulties as they received an unprecedented number of demands, which highlighted the weakness of their resources.
At the time, pictures spread of men and women waiting for hours in their car to register, as well as testimonies of people who waited weeks for an answer or a check for assistance and were unable to pay their rent or cover their daily expenses.