Not only did the glut of coronavirus-tied bailouts likely result in billions of dollars of fraud, but it happened because government agencies in many cases did not take even basic steps to prevent it, and in other cases have declined to try to claw back improper payments, the Government Accountability Office said Wednesday.
In a searing, comprehensive report, the nonpartisan auditing arm of Congress excoriated the administration of almost every pandemic-era spending program—and Congress itself—for doling out $4.6 trillion with the prospect of fraud seemingly an afterthought.
Three years after the pandemic began, rampant fraud turned out to be very much a reality.
Unemployment fraud. Coronavirus-era programs flooded cash into a program that already has one of the government’s highest rates of improper payments: unemployment checks. Non-coronavirus unemployment checks already had an improper payment rate of nearly 19% in fiscal year 2021 and more than 22% in 2022. Coronavirus programs flooded this with even easier access to even more cash, with $873 billion in checks to people who said they were laid off or had hours reduced because of coronavirus. In the best-case scenario–that coronavirus unemployment checks were…