An astonishing $36 billion has been lost to fraud in pandemic unemployment benefits, the Department of Labor reports. ‘It’s easy money,’ one glib Nigerian scammer admitted to reporters.
State unemployment agencies aren’t especially responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars even in the best of times. Yet when the COVID-19 crisis and government lockdowns put tens of millions of Americans out of work, Congress responded by pouring more taxpayer money into state-level unemployment systems.
The federal legislation enormously increased weekly payouts and expanded unemployment benefits to many new classes of workers, with little in the way of verification or qualification requirements. This welfare expansion was just reauthorized in the second major COVID-19 spending package, which Congress passed in mid-December. Sadly, lawmakers didn’t bother to address the runaway fraud that had plagued the first round of COVID relief efforts.
An astonishing $36 billion has been lost to fraud in pandemic unemployment benefits, the Department of Labor reports. To put this figure in context, the entire unemployment system only paid out about $26 billion in 2019.
That’s right: Bureaucrats lost to fraud more than is usually paid out in an entire year. The $36 billion lost—and that’s just the fraud we know about—amounts to an average of roughly $1,894 lost per current unemployment beneficiary. (What would we think of a private system that lost nearly $2,000 for each customer served?)
These figures alone are horrifying, but a new bombshell interview with one of the countless international scammers getting rich off our relief efforts makes it painfully clear just how carelessly Congress is throwing around our money. [ … ]