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As much as 50% of the stimulus unemployment money may have been stolen, Axios reports

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 10 Jun 2021

<p><img src="https://static3.businessinsider.com/image/6089b2653f0560001881c9aa-2000/GettyImages-1231314026.jpg" border="0" alt="$100 bills" data-mce-source="Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images" data-mce-caption="In this photo illustration, hands are seen counting US 100 dollar bills."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>From direct stimulus payments to unemployment benefits, Americans have received a range of different forms of financial aid during the pandemic. But a large chunk of that aidas much as 50%may not have made it into the hands of the right people.</p><p>Axios <a href="https://www.axios.com/pandemic-unemployment-fraud-benefits-stolen-a937ad9d-0973-4aad-814f-4ca47b72f67f.html'utm_source=newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosam&amp;stream=top">reported</a> on Thursday that unemployment fraud has been on the rise during the pandemic, with Blake Hall, the CEO of ID.me, a fraud prevention service, telling the news service that America has lost $400 billion to fraudulent claims and that as much as 50% of unemployment claims might have been stolen. The CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions' Government business, Haywood Talcove, also told Axios that at least 70% of stolen money ultimately left the country, with much of it ending up in places including Chin and Nigeria.</p><p>"These groups are definitely backed by the state," Talcove said.</p><p>This is not the first reported instance of stimulus money ending up in the wrong hands. Last week, federal authorities announced that Venezuelans living in South Florida and Mexico had <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/venezuelan-ring-accused-of-stealing-800000-stimulus-checks-miami-herald-2021-6">stolen over $800,000</a> in stimulus checks since the start of the pandemic.&nbsp;</p><p>And on May 28, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/unemployment-insurance-benefits-cares-act-office-inspector-general-labor-2021-6">found</a> that $39 billion in unemployment money from the CARES Act had been wasted, partly due to failures in detecting fraud and improper payments.&nbsp;</p><p>So how are scammers managing to carry out this fraud'</p><p>Axios reported that they often steal people's personal information to withdraw money, and "mules," or low-level criminals, are given debit cards to withdraw that money from ATMs, which then gets transferred abroad.</p><p>Given that some Democrats are pushing for recurring stimulus payments and unemployment benefits beyond what has already been delivered, fraud is something that will need to be addressed before moving forward. The OIG recommended more modernized technology to better detect fraudulent payments, along with working with states to help process claims.</p><p>But as a growing number of GOP-led states are ending unemployment benefits early to encourage people to get back to work, any further extension of unemployment benefits looks unlikely. President Joe Biden even <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-indicates-federal-unemployment-benefit-expiration-september-2021-6">said</a> in a speech last week that while the benefits have been effective thus far, "it makes sense" for them to expire in September.</p><p>"A temporary boost in unemployment benefits that we enacted helped people who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who still may be in the process of getting vaccinated," the president said in brief remarks following the May jobs report. "But it's going to expire in 90 daysit makes sense it expires in 90 days."</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/half-stimulus-unemployment-benefits-money-stolen-fraud-payments-axios-2021-6#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/why-everyone-hates-moist-2018-5">Why 'moist' is one of the most hated words in the English language</a></p>
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