COVID relief packages were a lifeline during the pandemic that helped state and local governments keep their citizens afloat.
But the country as a whole is taking a staggering loss of $600B in COVID relief fraud.
In order to fraudulently obtain funds, scammers filed billions of dollars in unemployment claims in multiple states simultaneously and relied on scammy, hard-to-trace emails. Some scammers used more than 205,000 Social Security numbers belonging to dead people. Other suspected criminals obtained benefits using the identities of prisoners who could not receive aid because they were ineligible. Fraud was also rampant in the PPP program.
While $600 billion is a staggering number, the government watchdog collecting data of the fraud warns that their accounting is not complete, and the number may well go up.
This report comes as states are discovered to be spending their relief aid on things like road infrastructure, bridges and other pressing needs not necessarily designed to be met by the COVID relief packages.
Many are criticizing the moves, suggesting that it is misusing funds designed to help in a public health emergency. But states like Kansas say they never needed the money they received to address the pandemic, so they’re using it where it is needed.
It’s basically a horrifying fuckup on a massive scale in a time when Americans are struggling to buy food and pay rent – a slap in the face as the money trickles away to scammers and states who aren’t sending it to the people who need it.