May 16, 2022
The National Desk recently interviewed Jetson Leder-Luis, Assistant Professor of Markets, Public Policy, and Law, regarding the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
The story details the fraud committed by two citizens to obtain unneeded pandemic unemployment assistance, and who are now facing sentences. U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General Larry D. Turner told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that at least $163 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits “could have been paid improperly” in March. Jetson believes most of the fraud was related to organized crime, resulting in overseas groups buying stolen identities to get identifying information to submit applications for unemployment insurance and then collecting benefits. Jetson explains how difficult it is for U.S. authorities to recover the funds once they’ve been moved overseas by stating,
“Once you find a loophole that’s not being sort of well-managed, these organized criminal groups will drive a truck through it,” he says. “We’ve seen this now not only in unemployment insurance. We see it when it comes to healthcare fraud. We see it when it comes to sort of any way in which the government can systematically be exploited for profit, there are groups that are ready to do that.”