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Big Government = Big Fraud, and Even China Gets Its Share

Surprise! The government’s Covid assistance to businesses and the unemployed became one big fraud-fest. But we’ve known that for some time. Now, NBC is reporting that the feds are acknowledging that even foreign countries got in on the scam—including China.
“Hackers linked to the Chinese government stole at least $20 million in U.S. Covid relief benefits, including Small Business Administration loans and unemployment insurance funds in over a dozen states, according to the Secret Service,” NBC reports.
The Chinese hacking group is known as APT41, a state-sponsored, semi-independent group.  The Secret Service considers it a “Chinese state-sponsored, cyberthreat group that is highly adept at conducting espionage missions and financial crimes for personal gain.”
But it’s far from the only one. NBC continues, “The Secret Service declined to confirm the scope of other investigations, saying there are more than 1,000 ongoing investigations involving transnational and domestic criminal actors defrauding public benefits programs.”
The Labor Department’s inspector general estimates the “improper payment” rate was 20 percent of the $872.5 billion handed out in federal pandemic unemployment funds—almost certainly on the low side.
And a Department of Labor analysis of four states estimated 42.4 percent of pandemic benefits were improperly paid in the first six months.
Congress rushed through the first pandemic relief, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), in March 2020, which provided $2.2 trillion. Virtually no one made an effort to ensure the money would only go to those who it was intended to help, rather than a wide-ranging group of fraudsters, including the Chinese.
So, the fact that hackers and fraudsters would benefit greatly from U.S. taxpayers was practically baked into the cake.
Would it have taken that much more time to look at the newly created programs and ask if there were sufficient safeguards to protect taxpayers’ money? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that as the big-spending Biden administration seeks to hand out trillions more taxpayer dollars, it creates more opportunities for criminals, both domestic and foreign, to siphon off even more money.
We will never stop the scams by after-the-fact investigations. If we really want to stop the crooks, we have to shrink the size of government.