Half of all unemployment money was stolen by criminals during the pandemic, experts say

Half of all unemployment money was stolen by criminals during the pandemic, experts say

The criminals have been able to access the money by stealing personal information and using it to impersonate claimants or buying it on the dark web. The groups also use an army of internet thieves to submit fraudulent claims. States, which administer the aid, may be prepared to combat fraud from individuals who are trying double-dip or cash in on benefits they don’t need, but not international criminals using the dark web to exploit the system.  Haywood Talcove, the CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solution, suggested the bulk of the money – about $250 billion – went to international criminal groups, most of which are backed by the state. The money is essentially being used as their slush fund for “nefarious purposes,” such as terrorism, illegal drugs and child trafficking, Talcove said.   THESE 25 STATES ARE ENDING $300 UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS – HERE’S WHEN

The news was first reported by Axios.  JOB SEARCHES SPIKED IN STATES PREMATURELY ENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

“Fraud is being perpetrated by domestic and foreign actors,” Blake Hall, CEO and founder of ID.ME, told FOX News. “We are successfully disrupting attempted fraud from international organized crime rings, including Russia, China, Nigeria and Ghana, as well as U.S. street gangs.” As much as $400 billion in unemployment benefits may have been fraudulent, according to one estimate by ID.me, FOX News confirmed. That amounts to about 50% of unemployment money, according to the company, which uses facial recognition software to verify identities. 

Although politicians were aware of the possible fraud risks, most argued it was more important to get the money out the door to Americans who were unable to work due to the virus.  Gene Sperling, who is overseeing the implementation of President Biden’s stimulus plan, blamed the fraud on the Trump administration, calling it “one of the most serious challenges we inherited.”  GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

Unemployment insurance became one of the federal government’s primary methods of keeping the economy afloat during the pandemic, with Congress repeatedly passing legislation to sweeten jobless aid. But state unemployment systems, many of which rely on Eisenhower-era systems, were overwhelmed by the deluge of claims during the pandemic and were ill-equipped to deal with the criminal attacks, the experts said.  “What they need to understand is post-Covid, the world has changed,” he told FOX News. “They are the target. And right now they haven’t put the defenses up that will secure those resources and make sure that they get into the hands of the right people, not transnational criminal groups.” 

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