Federalist: Joe Biden’s pick to lead his administration’s response to the economic damage caused by government shutdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic previously lost $600 million of Washington state’s aid dollars to foreign fraudsters in a hasty unemployment program rollout.
Earlier this week, reports indicated that former head of the Washington state Employment Security Department (ESD) Suzi LeVine would begin an interim leadership position in the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration program on Monday, overseeing the implementation of the federal unemployment benefits included in Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal. While some have said that new leadership could help remove some of the “chronic delays” in the pandemic payments, others have questioned LeVine’s capabilities to properly and carefully handle the process, considering her rollout track record.
Just last year, LeVine’s department in Washington state lost hundreds of millions of dollars to a long-known Nigerian scammer group called “Scattered Canary.” According to the U.S. Secret Service, Washington was the “primary state targeted” by the “well-organized Nigerian fraud ring exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to commit large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs.” The group, which historically targeted other American aid funds such as for students, Social Security, and disaster relief, used information from other breaches in Washington to create bogus joblessness claims and hike up the system’s number of claims. more