A new report from the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) has revealed that the U.S. government may have awarded over $5 billion in COVID-19 aid to individuals with questionable Social Security numbers. The aid was distributed between April 2020 and October 2022.
In light of the report, the House of Representatives Oversight Committee will hold a hearing this Wednesday to investigate fraud linked to pandemic spending. This follows the launch of the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force by Attorney General Merrick Garland in May 2021.
The U.S. Labor Department's inspector general has previously estimated that fraudsters have likely stolen $45.6 billion from the country's unemployment insurance program by using the Social Security numbers of deceased individuals. Similarly, federal prosecutors have charged dozens of people with stealing $250 million from a government aid program designed to feed children in need.
The report from the PRAC suggests that more measures need to be taken to prevent fraud associated with pandemic relief programs. It is yet to be seen what the outcome of the upcoming hearing will be, and whether it will result in further action to protect government spending.