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Friday, December 8th, 2023

Reps. Franklin, Comer seek update regarding foreign adversaries benefits theft

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U.S. Reps. Scott Franklin (R-FL) and James Comer (R-KY) recently forwarded correspondence to the Justice Department, seeking an update regarding efforts to address COVID-19 relief benefits stolen by transnational and state-sponsored organizations.

The representatives cited a report that found tens of billions of pandemic unemployment benefits obtained by foreign adversaries, including China and Russia.

“The theft of up to $280 billion in unemployment benefits due to fraudulent activity by foreign adversaries and criminals is a major scandal and a breach of our national security,” Franklin said. “To put this number in perspective, the amount of pandemic relief money lost to fraud over the past 18 months is the same as we spent on the Apollo program over 13 years to put men on the moon. Where possible, the perpetrators of these crimes should be tracked down and prosecuted, and those who negligently allowed this fraud, waste, and abuse to happen must be held accountable for betraying American taxpayers’ trust.”

Franklin and Comer also cited a report detailing more than 40 percent of the $700 billion spent on pandemic-related unemployment benefits went to fraud.

“It’s unacceptable that tens of billions of taxpayer dollars were stolen by foreign adversaries. Americans’ hard-earned money shouldn’t be lining the pockets of Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and their cronies who are opposed to our interests,” Comer, House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member, said. “The Justice Department must provide us with answers about how it plans to combat and prosecute these crimes. The mission of the Oversight Committee is to root out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government, and Republicans will continue working to ensure safeguards are in place to protect taxpayers.”