Only in June, the FBI found evidence of a colossal cyberfraud on U.S. government benefits. Tax information, credit card and bank accounts were snitched from the Americans. They also found dozens of emails with false unemployment claims leading to payouts of over $400,000.
All this gold mine of information was found in the Google accounts of Abedemi Rufai, who is a Nigerian state government official. It led to his arrest at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he was escaping to Nigeria, as per the court records.
Tip of the iceberg
Rufai’s case is merely a snippet of the biggest fraud ever perpetrated against the U.S., according to law enforcement officials, and foreigners are responsible for a significant part of it. Chinese hackers and Russian mobsters have stolen countless identities to steal Covid benefits and bringing to pass a massive transfer of wealth of the U.S. taxpayers to overseas.
And it continues to take place.
A great deal of cash had already been wiped by the time the state officials recognized the frauds. The actual rate of unemployment was 23 per cent, but the jobless claims added up to about two-thirds of the United States’ workforce.
The Biden administration
Biden administration had pinned the blame on the Trump government. The Biden government had allocated $2 billion to shore up unemployment systems. But the states have proven to be a failure in taking the elementary steps to improve identity verification.
It is observed that twenty states failed to perform all the identity checks on their database, and 44 states did not complete the recommended ones.
Thousands of victims
The fraud has inflicted monumental losses on the U.S. treasury. Also, the fraudsters have managed to inflict suffering on thousands of people who had a hard time obtaining the much-needed benefits.
Recovery of the stolen cash has been minimal, and many criminals have not been caught yet. Despite opening 2,000 investigations, the FBI has only recovered $100 million. The majority of the stolen funds are irrevocable and gone for good.
The government still does not know the specifics of the amount stolen. Over two-thirds of the states have reported no thefts in their unemployment benefits program. Experts disagree and call it bogus. The public is in the dark about the extent of the fraud.
Analysts have pointed their fingers at a Nigerian fraud ring that has been committing cyber fraud for years, and when the pandemic hit, they jumped at the next big opportunity. U.S. government must put stringent laws about identity verification into force to nip these frauds in the bud.