(NewsNation) — Fraudsters have stolen as much as $135 billion in federal unemployment aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report by the Government Accountability Office found.
GAO estimates fraud in unemployment insurance (UI) programs was likely between $100 billion and $135 billion during the pandemic, about 11% to 15% of the total amount of UI benefits paid during that time.
The U.S. Department of Labor disputes this report, claiming the amount was likely overstated as they raise concerns over the methodology used to reach the estimate. GAO disagrees.
“The unprecedented demand for UI benefits and the need to quickly implement the new programs during the pandemic increased the risk of fraud,” according to the report.
The report also stated, “The increased significance of the UI system during the pandemic drew attention to its vulnerabilities and susceptibility to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.”
Since 2018. GAO has made 26 recommendations to the Department of Labor to improve the UI system. They have only fully implemented 10 of these recommendations thus far.