An estimated $45.6 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits was likely stolen by fraudsters who used the Social Security numbers of dead people and prisoners to claim the aid, a government watchdog said Wednesday in a report. The report, issued by the Labor Department’s inspector general, said the loss total was revised upward from a June 2021 assessment that about $16 billion had been stolen by fraudulent claims. “Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the [unemployment insurance] program, resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments,” Labor Department Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement. First
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