The state of Michigan paid up to $8.5 billion in fraudulent unemployment assistance claims during the pandemic, a new audit has found.
The report prepared by Deloitte & Touche LLP uncovered that Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency paid an estimated $8.4 billion to $8.51 billion in potentially fraudulent claims from March 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021.
But the report also found the losses could have been much worse, as the state avoided paying an estimated $43.7 billion in fraudulent claims in that same time period.
“It’s extremely disheartening that bad actors have defrauded the much-needed benefits intended for hard-working Michiganders and the scale of their actions is stunning,” Julia Dale, Michigan’s UIA director, said in a statement, according to The Detroit News. “We have been successful over the past year in limiting the percentage of cases that are fraudulent to less than 1 percent, but we will never stop fighting for our workers.”
State-level unemployment offices dealt with unprecedented levels of new claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new pressure left many agencies exposed to fraudsters, according to state and federal officials.