The United States Secret Service recovered more than $2 billion in stolen unemployment benefits over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency announced Wednesday.
The agency seized over $640 million in fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits, and helped return over $2 billion to state unemployment programs, it announced in a press release.
Assistant Special Agent Roy Dotson told CNBC that the $2 billion was a “conservative estimate” of the amount stolen, and that many investigations are ongoing.
We have been hard at work over the last year investigating COVID-19 relief fraud, and so far have returned $2 billion to state unemployment insurance programs. Read more: https://t.co/kuNkV7MkOz pic.twitter.com/ZsF0EFAmtP
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) May 12, 2021
“This is typical of the cyber fraud we deal with annually. It’s just compounded based on additional funds [from] Covid relief,” Dotson said.
In addition to protecting the president and vice president, the Secret Service investigated financial fraud and counterfeiting.
Congress passed six pandemic-relief bills in 2020 and 2021.
The federal government provided over $800 billion in unemployment benefits for Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and over $800 billion in Paycheck Protection Program loans (PPP), according to Covid Money Tracker. (RELATED: House Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill, Heads To Biden’s Desk)
“The amount of unemployment insurance benefits provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in the history of the nation’s unemployment insurance system. Unfortunately, the significant increase in benefits made the program a target for those seeking to defraud government programs,” Acting Inspector General for the Department of Labor Larry D. Turner said.