The coronavirus pandemic has had a multifaceted impact on society, almost entirely in a negative way. The pandemic is first and foremost a difficult to manage public health crisis. Moreover, it has had disastrous impacts on the economy and has sent unemployment rates soaring. In an effort to mitigate the adverse side effects of the pandemic, the government stepped up and created a ‘pandemic unemployment assistance’ to help its citizens manage the financial stress of the situation.
Unfortunately, however, some individuals have taken advantage of the government and used the assistance programs created in an unlawful way. These cybercriminals have one objective: generate income regardless of the costs. In order to procure these funds, the criminals are willing to fake their identities and lie about their income.
In Colorado, over the span of a month, over 75% of unemployment applicants were ruled fraudulent. In Pennsylvania, thousands of inmates applied for the assistance and received it before anybody realized. Finally, but not lastly, within California, officials suspect a high degree of fraud is occurring as claims for unemployment assistance spiked to 100,000.
One commentator reflected on the trends full of disdain for the criminals: “the same people who were involved in romance scams and employment scams six months ago are now using the pandemic as an opportunity to victimize Americans.”
One question Americans might be asking themselves if they filed for unemployment insurance is whether they accidentally committed fraud. Though this is not something that individuals should be concerned about. Executive director at the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment assures individuals that these are well thought out scams and not mistakes. He said in a statement “these aren’t individuals who happen to be filling one or two claims. These are schemes that have figured out ways to get into the system and override security systems that are in place.” Thus, it is clear that these scammers are experts at what they do.
Therefore, when it comes to the state of the government and economy in the wake and midst of coronavirus makes one thing clear: there are bad people in the world who will actively seek out making themselves better off at the cost of another individual or entity. It is also important to remember who these criminals are. One statement by Smith reinforces the point that “the pandemic did not create any new criminals, it just created an environment for criminals to exploit.”