Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Fraud Could Top $200b, Firm Says

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A significant portion of unemployment benefits to Americans struggling during the coronavirus pandemic may be getting stolen by fraudsters, according to new data., a computer security firm which works with 22 states to combat unemployment fraud and successfully helps workforce agencies identify legitimate unemployment claimants, estimates that more than $200 billion in federal assistance for unemployed Americans may have been pocketed through fraud. The finding is more than triple the official government estimate of $63 billion, based on the 10% pre-pandemic fraud rate.

According to, at least 30% of new claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides benefits to Americans who are self-employed and contractors, are fraudulent.

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The firm notes that roughly 20% of the fraud is linked to breached personal data, up to 10% is through social engineering, and 2.5% are linked to face matching, where a criminal tries to use a mask, video, or image of the victim.

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