COVID-19 has been a blessing to the corrupt. According to ProPublica research, a record number of fraudsters have profited from pandemic lockdowns by filing false unemployment claims. ProPublica examined hundreds of Social Security records and discovered that some people made claims and received payouts in various locations, with one scammer filing in as many as 40 states. 29 states paid $222,532 in payments to the same individual. The majority of the scamming was highly coordinated, according to the research, with gangs interacting via Telegram from both inside and outside the United States, particularly from China and West Africa.
Bots were employed to file claims in bulk in the more coordinated schemes. The frauds mostly targeted states with out-of-date unemployment systems, such as Vermont, where 90 percent of all claims are suspected of being fake. By the time the aid programs expire in September 2021, the US Department of Labor estimates that at least $87 billion would have been handed out to fraudulent claimants.