Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Fraud Could Top $200B, Firm Says
By Space Coast Daily // March 22, 2021
Lawmakers have committed a total of $486B in funding for unemployment benefits, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
ID.me, a computer security firm which verifies worker identities across 19 states, roughly 75% of the national population, finds that more than $200 billion in federal assistance for unemployed Americans may have been pocketed through fraud. The finding is more than triple the official government estimate of $63 billion, based on the 10% pre-pandemic fraud rate.
The firm notes that roughly 20% of the fraud is linked to breached personal data, up to 10% is through social engineering, and 2.5% are linked to face matching, where a criminal tries to use a mask, video, or image of the victim. Up to 30% of claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to Americans who are self-employed and contractors, are fraudulent, according to ID.me.
A spokesperson for ID.me did not immediately return FOX Business’ request for comment.
The American Enterprise Institute estimates the $200 billion figure could make unemployment assistance fraud the fourth largest “spending program” during the pandemic, behind the Paycheck Protection Program, total unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.
States targeted by fraudsters with some of the highest per week unemployment benefits include California, Washington and Massachusetts.
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