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<Press Release>

Statement from PRAC Chair Michael Horowitz on Labor Watchdog Announcement

Department of Labor watchdog announces more than 1,000 individuals have been charged with unemployment insurance fraud
09/22/2022

Michael E. Horowitz, Chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), commended today’s announcement from Larry D. Turner, the Inspector General for the Department of Labor (DOL), that his office has charged more than 1,000 individuals with Unemployment Insurance (UI) fraud since the beginning of the pandemic. These charges have resulted in more than 400 criminal convictions to date.  

Inspector General Turner also identified $45.6 billion in potentially fraudulent UI benefits as a result of his office’s investigations. In some cases, these benefits were paid to individuals that used the Social Security numbers of people who were either deceased or in prison. 

“I applaud the great work of Inspector General Turner and his staff,” Chair Horowitz said. “The UI program is annually ranked as one of the highest-risk federal programs susceptible to fraud. The pandemic UI programs increased this risk by allowing applicants to self-certify their eligibility for benefits. The DOL Office of Inspector General (OIG) has worked tirelessly to pursue individuals and groups who fraudulently exploited these programs.”  

Inspector General Turner credited his office with strengthening its data analytics program and creating the first national UI data warehouse, both of which helped improve the DOL OIG’s ability to detect fraud and identify program weaknesses. He also acknowledged the benefit of strong partnerships with law enforcement agencies across government, including the PRAC.  

The PRAC and the DOL OIG are both part of the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force, which works with state workforce agencies, financial institutions, and other law enforcement partners to fight UI fraud. The PRAC supports the DOL OIG by providing investigative, legal, and data analytics support. The PRAC also coordinates with Office of Management and Budget and the American Rescue Plan implementation team led by Gene Sperling to address antifraud controls in pandemic programs. These efforts have improved the sharing of state unemployment insurance data with federal officials to fight fraud. 

“The DOL OIG and the entire Inspector General community has risen to the challenge of investigating the $5 trillion in emergency pandemic assistance,” added Chair Horowitz. “We’re proud to support these efforts. Today’s announcement shows our progress pursuing fraudsters and our commitment to recovering every dollar stolen from taxpayers.” 

Read the DOL OIG’s press release. 

Learn more about what the PRAC is doing to keep the public informed about pandemic UI programs.  

We looked at more than 40 reports from 16 state auditors to see how they handled the challenge of administering benefits early in the pandemic. Here’s what we found.  

Use our interactive map to find out how much estimated UI fraud there is in your state.  

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The PRAC was established by the CARES Act to promote transparency and support independent oversight of the funds provided by the CARES Act and other related emergency spending bills. In addition to its coordination and oversight responsibilities, the PRAC is tasked with supporting efforts to “prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement [and] mitigate major risks that cut across program and agency boundaries.”  

If you have additional questions, please contact Lisa Reijula at lisa.reijula@cigie.gov  

 

 

 

 

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