As much as half of the unemployment benefits paid by the US government over the past year may have been stolen through fraud, with the bulk ultimately ending up outside the country – likely into the hands of foreign crime syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere, according to Axios‘ Felix Salmon.
According to some estimates, unemployment fraud during the pandemic could ‘easily reach $400 billion,’ as states weren’t prepared for the unprecedented wave of unemployment claims.
States knew that fraud was inevitable, but opted to rush money out to people with minimal oversight, as opposed to laboriously vetting each application.
According to Blake Hall, CEO of ID.me – a fraud prevention service, America has lost over $400 billion to fraudulent claims, with as much as 50% of all unemployment payments possibly being stolen.
Of that, up to 70% of the money stolen by impostors ultimately left the country according to Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, who ways “These groups are definitely backed by the state.”
The rest of the money was likely stolen by street gangs domestically, who have made up a greater share of the fraud in recent months.
The federal government gives us doctored numbers that show that the national unemployment rate is low, but in small towns all across the country it seems like almost everyone is either unemployed or working extremely low paying jobs. Earlier this month, one such town was profiled by USA Today. Even before the COVID pandemic came along, the little town of Ogdensburg, New York was deeply struggling, but now economic conditions have become extremely dire…
Ogdensburg is tiny and desperately poor, so it experiences these national trends in concentrated form. The median house in this city of 10,000 people sells for $68,000, according to the U.S. Census. The average family earns $42,000 a year, and 2,300 residents live below the federal poverty line, giving Ogdensburg a poverty rate 75% higher than the rest of New York State.
Then the economy closed. The governments of Canada and the United States tried to limit the spread of COVID-19 by shutting the international border, including the curvy suspension bridge between Ogdensburg and Prescott, Ontario. In the small industrial park east of town, the few remaining warehouses and Canadian-owned factories shut down. The hospital in Ogdensburg furloughed 174 people. Most restaurants and grocery stores stayed open, primarily by firing every person they could.
Like millions of other Americans, most people living in Ogdensburg are just trying to find some way to survive month after month.
A spending bill, labeled as a relief package for Americans during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, will allow federal bureaucrats to import more foreign workers to take blue-collar jobs in the United States – even as 17.8 million Americans remain jobless.
A provision slipped into the more than 5,590-page spending bill allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor Department to import more foreign labor competition against Americans at their discretion.
Specifically, the bill gives DHS the ability to “increase the total number” of H-2B foreign visa workers who can be brought into the U.S. to take blue-collar, nonagricultural jobs that would otherwise go to working class Americans.
DHS Secretaries over the last four years have repeatedly allowed businesses to import more H-2B foreign visa workers above the annual cap of 66,000. Continuation of the policy would come as 24.5 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. About 17.8 million of those are jobless.