Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has provided an unprecedented level of unemployment benefits to Americans across the nation as businesses shuttered and incomes shriveled. Unfortunately, recent commentary has suggested that a significant percentage of this unemployment has ended up in largely unsavory hands.
Approximately 50 percent of the unemployment money that has been distributed throughout the COVID pandemic has apparently been stolen, per various reports. Several individuals believe that the mass theft commenced with criminals and ultimately resulted in monies being funneled outside of American borders.
In addition, a report released on Thursday illustrates that well over $400B of American aid has been lost due to numerous fraudulent claims. The $400B not only represents an enormous loss to the American economy, but also an enormous gain to various criminal organizations abroad.
Troublingly, experts have noted that a minimum of 70 percent of the unemployment funds ended up in the hands of major criminal organizations, including organizations based in Russia, Nigeria, and China. In addition, the Secret Service also observed that a presumed crime ring in Nigeria has committed mass fraud on various unemployment insurance programs, primarily by utilizing the Social Security numbers belonging to individuals who were victimized by identity theft.
A Secret Service investigation out of Charleston, https://t.co/k3MjGoRVYH has led to 9 individuals charged with using cyber romance scams to defraud 200 victims out of a total of $2.5 Million. Read more: https://t.co/n1kC2tP40p pic.twitter.com/ZrpIQVSml6
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) June 3, 2021
The Secret Service also released a formal statement on this matter, noting that it “[assumes] the fraud ring” underlying the massive fraud “possesses a substantial PII database” in order to submit the sheer volume of applications that have been “observed thus far.”
Moreover, the Secret Service also issues warnings about the states that are most likely the be victimized by this fraud ring, based on evidence to date: Florida, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. So far, these states have presented the most cases of such fraud occurring with the use of stolen identities.
However, the Secret Service also warned that all 50 states are vulnerable to this particular scheme, which means they are likely to be targeted if that has not occurred already. For this reason, it is necessary for all states to take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of mask fraud’s occurrence.