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U.S. Watchdog Says $163 Billion in Covid Payouts Could Be Fraud

March 17, 2022, 2:15 PM

At least $163 billion in U.S. pandemic unemployment benefit payouts could be linked to fraud, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s watchdog.

More than 18% of the $872.5 billion in pandemic unemployment payments may have been sent improperly, “with a significant proportion attributable to fraud,” according to U.S. Senate testimony Thursday from Larry Turner, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The unprecedented infusion of federal funds into the UI program gave individuals and organized criminal groups a high-value target to exploit,” Turner said in written testimony, calling the situation “a perfect storm.”

“That, combined with easily ...