Fraudsters may have gotten away with tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. Department of Labor by filing claims in multiple states and using the social security numbers of dead people as aid was distributed during the coronavirus pandemic, a federal watchdog claimed Thursday.
The department’s own inspector general, Larry Turner, revealed his office has identified $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent unemployment insurance payments that occurred between March 2020 and April, UPI reports.
“Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the UI program — resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Turner said in a statement.
The watchdog also found the Labor Department paid out more than $267.3 million in unemployment insurance benefits to federal prisoners and $140 million to nearly 206,000 social security numbers belonging to dead people.
Eight men from New York City allegedly stole $2 million in coronavirus relief and then flaunted the cash online, prosecutors said. https://t.co/5MfDeSkSRe
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 21, 2021
The inspector general’s office said its 140 criminal investigators have opened more than 190,000 investigations related to unemployment insurance fraud, resulting in charges being brought against more than 1,000 people, the UPI report adds.
So far, the department has secured 400 convictions, accounting for more than 7,000 combined months of incarceration, it said.
The Labor Department is not the only organization being investigated for handling fraudulent claims during the pandemic.
As Breitbart News reported, 47 people were charged in Minnesota on Tuesday with conspiracy and other counts in what Federal authorities allege is the largest fraud scheme yet to take advantage of $1.9 trillion in taxpayer funds released by the Biden administration during the coronavirus pandemic.
Among those charged is Aimee Bock, 41, the founder and executive director of Feeding Our Future, a non-profit organization that was a sponsor of the Federal Child Nutrition Program.
The accused face charges of stealing a shared total of $250 million from a federal taxpayer-funded program that provides meals to low-income children.
The defendants face an array of charges ranging from wire fraud to bribery and money laundering.