The United States Secret Service confiscated and returned to state authorities about $ 2 billion stolen in COVID-19 aid funds for the unemployed. They called it a typical cyber fraud.

Violations have been exposed in at least 30 US states. The authorities decided that many fraudsters have applied for benefits under the so-called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

“It’s a typical cyber fraud that we deal with every year. Now it’s getting worse by creating extra money because of Covid. (…) Criminals have taken full advantage of the software to steal them,” Secret Service Agent Roy Dotson told CNBC.

The $ 2 billion is just a “conservative estimate,” according to the agent. Fraudsters may steal larger sums. An investigation into this continues.

NBC said in February that most of the state’s 50 recruiting agencies did not yet know the full extent of their losses.

“I imagine it will take another year or two to solve this problem,” Dotson predicted.

In the past year, the special services sent warnings to financial institutions about which accounts money could be deposited into.

Dotson explained that fraudsters often steal the identities of people who qualify for unemployment benefits. Other cases involved people who had not even applied for unemployment benefits.

The Ministry of Labor’s Office of the Inspector General said in a March report that at least 89 of the $ 896 billion in unemployment insurance funds “may have been improperly paid and much of it may be attributed to fraud.”

As CNBC notes, the Ministry of Labor announced that it will work with the Secret Service, the Ministry of Justice, and other agencies “to prosecute those who cheat the program (…) and secure benefits for the unemployed.”

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The Secret Services also reported seizing more than $ 640 million in extortion mainly from small business loan funds, and are encouraged to keep their employees on the payroll (Paycheck Protection Program), as well as for small businesses or private nonprofits that have suffered significant economic damage. In the United States under a program that covers natural disasters etc. (Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program).

So far, the authorities have launched about 690 investigations into unemployment insurance. 720 investigations linked to loan programs.

CNBC previously revealed that millions of dollars in Covid-19 money have been laundered through online investment platforms.

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