The Government Accountability Office (GAO) must investigate the greatest theft of American tax dollars in the nation’s history, according to a new letter by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, and U.S. Representatives Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana), Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee for Worker and Family Support.  

Despite fraud in COVID unemployment insurance programs crossing multiple federal agency jurisdictions, no single entity has determined the actual scope or severity of unemployment fraud.  Taxpayers need to know how much fraud has occurred and what actions are necessary to prevent future fraud, which takes resources away from those in need and puts them in the pockets of criminals. 

From the letter

“Unemployment fraud takes resources away from American workers who deserve assistance and puts those resources directly in the pockets of fraudsters. Given that roughly a year-and-a-half has elapsed since the pandemic’s onset and given what appears to be the largest amount of unemployment fraud in history since March of last year, it is concerning that some seem almost indifferent to the massive fraud that has occurred.  

“Fraud in COVID unemployment programs appears to be the greatest theft of American tax dollars in our nation’s history, estimated at anywhere from $89 billion to $400 billion.  Yet, there is currently no federal effort in place to formally evaluate and estimate the true scope and severity of COVID unemployment fraud nationwide.  We request that GAO, as part of its mission and ongoing work to reduce improper payments and safeguard federal funds, investigate, and provide a national estimate of funds lost because of fraudulent activity.”  

In May, Ranking Members Crapo and Brady urged the Department of Labor to devote significantly more funds to the detection and prevention of unemployment insurance fraud.  Each also filed legislation in their respective chambers to prevent fraud in COVID unemployment programs.

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