The Office of the Inspector General for the Labor Department put out an alert stating it has identified $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent pandemic unemployment payments. Assistant Inspector General Carolyn Hantz sent a memorandum to Acting Assistant Secretary Brent Parton which stated immediate action was needed.
According to the memo, the potentially fraudulent payments were made between March 2020 to April 2022. The Inspector General’s office made the determination by looking into payments made to people in high risk areas including: people who filed in multiple states, claims in the name of deceased persons, claims with suspicious email accounts and federal prisoners.
According to the OIG findings the following amounts were paid to those in the high risk areas:
Multistate Claimants: $28,967,047,154
Deceased Persons: $139,483,136
Suspicious Emails: $16,265,578,304
Federal Prisoners: $267,382,013
The OIG indicated this has been an ongoing investigation, and that the Labor Department in charge of providing the data has been too slow in providing everything needed to make a full determination of the damage.
“Despite the OIG’s continued efforts to identify potentially fraudulent payments to ineligible claimants, we continue to experience delays in obtaining the needed UI data,” the memorandum stated.
The memo also states the Office of the Inspector General made recommendations to the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) on how to mitigate and prevent fraud.
The OIG first alerted the ETA of the potential for fraudulent payments in February 2021, outlined the four high risk areas, and recommended the ETA take corrective action. But according to the memo, sufficient action has not been taken to prevent more fraud.
“ETA’s lack of sufficient action significantly increases the risk of even more UI (unemployment insurance) payments to ineligible claimants,” Hantz wrote in the memo. “Our identification of the additional potentially fraudulent payments emphasizes the need for increased ETA engagement and assistance to mitigate fraud and protect the UI program’s integrity.”