Millions in U.S Unemployment Funds Stolen By Foreign Fraud Ring
Money to help jobless Americans lost to overseas crime network based in Nigeria
Millions of dollars worth of U.S. unemployment funds has been stolen by a foreign fraud ring based in Nigeria, according to reports.
The Nigerian crime network allegedly stole huge sums of money in benefits meant to help jobless Americans.
The complex scheme filed invalid claims on behalf of American workers who may not even be unemployed.
The overseas ring stole the identities from citizens, including social security numbers, during the elaborate scheme, the New York Times reported.
Federal authorities believe that most of the false claims were filed in Washington state.
However, according to a Secret Service memo obtained by the Times, similar attacks also occurred in other states.
North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Rhode Island, were all also hit by the fraud ring, according to the feds.
Individual state unemployment departments are currently overwhelmed by Americans looking for a lifeline as economies ground to a halt.
The extra strain could see the fraud ring stealing “hundreds of millions of dollars” from the American tax pot.
Special Agent Roy Dotson, who specializes in financial fraud at the Secret Service, says authorities are still investigating the mega heist.
“We are actively running down every lead we are getting,” Dotson said in an interview with investigators obtained by the Times.
The attack was first reported to authorities in Washington state, where people who did not file for unemployment benefits started receiving benefits they did not ask for.
“This is a gut punch,” Washington State Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine told the Times.
Since March, more than 36 million people have filed for unemployment amid shutdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to News Thud.
The sudden volume in jobless claims has overwhelmed state unemployment systems.
The attack adds yet another obstacle as state governments work to send out unemployment benefits in a timely manner.