Watch CBS News

U.S. Department of Labor OIG reports up to $163 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits may be fraudulent

U.S. Department of Labor OIG: over $163B in pandemic unemployment benefits may be fraudulent 01:20

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For two years, we have been Working for Chicago - advocating for the thousands of you who have been victims of unemployment fraud here in Illinois.

Now, U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General Larry Turner says he believes as much as $163 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits may be linked to fraud.

"Instead of a thorough examination of an applicant's eligibility, many programs substituted this requirement with quicker self-reported information, which contributed to funds mistakenly being sent to deceased individuals; ineligible applicants, for fraudulent criminal schemes," U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Gary Peters (D-Michigan) said at a hearing on the matter Thursday.

IG Turner Testimony HSGAC Final by Adam Harrington on Scribd

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOL inspector general has received 143,000 unemployment fraud complaints. The IG has executed 450 search warrants and served 749 fraud-related indictments.

One recent DOL IG investigation resulted in charges against 11 members of the Brooklyn-based Woo Gang in a multimillion-dollar pandemic unemployment fraud scheme. In another, a onetime employee of the California Employment Development Department was sentenced to more than five years in prison for fraudulently obtaining nearly $4.3 million in pandemic relief funds.

The OIG report also included a picture showing the results of a search warrant for unemployment - $500,000 in cash, 30 unemployment insurance debit cards, and several notebooks with personally identifiable information, and an assortment of weapons.

Items seized by U.S. Department of Labor OIG agents during the execution of a UI fraud search warrant. Agents recovered approximately 30 UI debit cards, over $500,000 in cash, and several notebooks containing personally identifiable information. U.S. Department of Labor Inspector General

We've been asking the State of Illinois for this information at the state level - and the Illinois Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly refused our requests and those from several state lawmakers.

Working For Chicago

 CBS 2 is committed to 'Working For Chicago'. We want to hear from you. Send us tips, ideas or your questions, using this form.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.