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Illinois Audit Finds 50%+ Fraud Rate in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Matt Weidinger of AEI dug into a little-noticed audit report in Illinois to find these shocking numbers:

The report by Illinois’ auditor general states that the Illinois agency, which administers both state and federal unemployment benefits, paid $3.6 billion in federal PUA benefits during state fiscal year 2021. The report describes “overpayments associated with ID theft and traditional fraud within the PUA program” as “unprecedented.” Specifically, the audit states that ID theft overpayments under the PUA program totaled over $1.8 billion—or 50.4 percent of the $3.6 billion in PUA payments.

Needless to say, a private company with fraud rates at even a fraction of those levels would be out of business.

This was the $600 per week unemployment benefit for the self-employed who “self-certified” that they lost income due to the pandemic. Every COVID spending program had an appalling fraud rate but unsurprisingly given its program design, this may have been the very worst. When these fraud rates were revealed to House Democrats, one Rep. was dismissive: “When you spend this amount of money that quickly, you’re going to have some fraud.”

“SOME” Congressman?

Democrats have resisted more audits and oversight of federal welfare programs. They even tried (but fortunately failed) to make this program permanent.

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