Fraud Rampant in Chinese Virus Unemployment Handout; Those Darn Nigerians Again!

Here is some news from a week ago that I would have missed completely except for the sharp eyes of ‘Meanymom.’

From the Foundation for Economic Education:

Runaway Fraud Plagues the Massive Unemployment Program Congress Is About to Extend, Report Finds

The debate over expanded unemployment benefits has proven particularly fractious, given that the $2 trillion CARES Act Congress passed in March set up a broken economic system where nearly 70 percent of the unemployed can get paid more in benefits while staying home than they would make by going back to work. Yet as important as the ramifications of this distorted big government labor policy are, one largely overlooked consequence of the massive expansion of unemployment is skyrocketing fraud and abuse.

A new report from the fiscally conservative Foundation for Government Accountability exposes the stunning extent to which fraud has corrupted the hastily-crafted unemployment expansion.

FGA Senior Research Fellow Josh Waters found that fraud will consume more taxpayer dollars under this expansion than the entire unemployment program paid out in 2019.

Remember that the unemployment system was already very wasteful before COVID-19, with roughly 10 percent of payments being made in error in 2019. Waters explains that even generously assuming this fraud rate remains constant—it will likely be worse this year due to system overload and COVID-19 chaos—his calculations show a whopping $26 billion will be lost to fraud as a result of this expansion.

“As states try to respond to the historic increase in claims due to shutdowns and layoffs, the $600 bonus payments are making it very lucrative for fraudsters who know many states probably lack the staffing and resources to combat fraud while the systems are overloaded with an unprecedented amount of claims,” Waters writes.

The FGA report documents how this fraud is playing out at the state level:

Mississippi is estimated to have paid out at least $76 million in improper payments so far, and the governor warns the state has been “attacked with false claims”

Washington State was hit by Nigerian scammers and is estimated to have paid out at least $650 million improperly

Oklahoma already reports 65,000 fraudulent unemployment claims and has likely paid out tens of millions improperly

Arizona estimates that its fraud rate has doubled since the expansion and that nearly 10 percent of benefits being paid out are fraudulent

Needless to say, the reference to Nigerian scammers snapped me to attention.

What is that all about?

Here is the story from May:

The Nigerian Fraudsters Ripping Off the Unemployment System

As millions of people around the United States scrambled in recent weeks to collect unemployment benefits and disbursements through the federal Cares Act, officials warned about the looming threat of Covid-19-related scams online. Now they’re here.

On Thursday, the Secret Service issued an alert about a massive operation to file fraudulent unemployment claims in states around the country, like Washington and Massachusetts. Officials attributed the activity to Nigerian scammers and said millions of dollars had already been stolen. New research is now shedding light on one of the actors tied to the scams—and the other pandemic hustles they have going.

The email security firm Agari today will release findings that an actor within the Nigerian cybercriminal group Scattered Canary is filing fraudulent unemployment claims and receiving benefits from multiple states, while also receiving Cares payouts from the Internal Revenue Service. So far this has netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in scam payments. Regular unemployment, the extra $600 per week that out-of-work Americans can claim during the pandemic, plus the one-time $1,200 payment eligible adults are receiving under the Cares Act are all vulnerable targets for cybercriminals. In the midst of a pandemic and critical economic downturn, though, the theft of those benefits could have particularly dire consequences.

The Secret Service warns that hundreds of millions of dollars could be lost to such scams just as states are running out of money to fund unemployment on their own.

More here.

Oh goody, Washington state recovered some of its losses.

But, it wasn’t only Washington state where the Nigerians were busy ripping us off.  According to CBS News, seven states experienced attacks.

 

See my file on Nigerians!

P.S. How is your prepping going?  There is an excellent chapter about situational awareness in the book I mentioned in this post recently.

Providence Pervert Charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

The alleged sicko is Akinola Akinlapa, but try as I may I could find no reference to the 18-year-old’s immigration status.

The name is a common one in—drum roll please—Nigeria!

The arrest happened a week ago, and thanks to a reader for spotting it, or I would have missed it.

There are a lot of local news reports on the Rhode Island case, but I am not seeing anything mentioned in the national media—it doesn’t advance their political agenda, of course.

Because most of the local news reports simply rely on the Justice Department’s press release, I figured the best thing for me was to post it in full here:

 

High School Student Charged with Coercion and Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

PROVIDENCE – An 18-year-old Providence high school student has been charged in U.S. District Court in Providence with allegedly coercing a 10-year-old Utah girl to disrobe and engage in sexually explicit conduct in front of a live online camera.

New American?

It is alleged in court documents that Akinola Akinlapa, with the online user name of Melissa#7384, messaged and provided a 10-year-old girl with a link to what he told her was an online children’s gaming platform. After that link and a second link allegedly sent to the girl by Akinlapa opened to blank pages, a video call was initiated between the two.

It is alleged that Akinlapa told the young girl that the links she had clicked transmitted a virus to her computer and that her personal information had been taken from the computer.

Akinlapa instructed the 10-year-old to undress in front of the camera if she failed to do so her personal information would be posted to the Internet.

Note to prospective pervs—law enforcement can find your IP address.

It is alleged in court documents that when the 10-year-old undressed and stood in front of the camera, Akinlapa instructed the girl to perform sexually explicit acts. The girl pretended to comply, cut off the communications, and notified her mother who in turn contacted the West Valley City, Utah Police Department.

An investigation by the West Valley City Police Department and FBI agents in Salt Lake City, Utah, and in Providence identified an IP address at Akinlapa’s Providence residence as being the source of communications with the 10-year-old Utah girl.

On June 2, 2020, members of the Providence FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force, to include law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI and Providence and Warwick Police Departments, executed a federal court-authorized search of computers and smart phones at Akinlapa’s residence.

A brief forensic review of the contents of a smart phone allegedly belonging to Akinlapa was found to contain images of at least two pre-pubescent females that were also allegedly discovered by investigators to be contained in an online account belonging to Akinlapa.

According to information presented to the court, investigators have determined that Akinlapa allegedly communicated with more than a dozen pre-pubescent girls in much the same way it is alleged that he communicated with the 10-year-old Utah girl.

Akinlapa was arrested on June 3, 2020, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with sexual exploitation of a child, possession of visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, coercion and enticement of a minor, and possession of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division Joseph R. Bonavolonta.

A federal criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

There should be a federal law that the immigration status (citizenship status) of anyone arrested by the feds should be noted in statements to the media. In the meantime we will assume ‘new American’ status for the alleged sexual deviant Akinlapa.

Usually these Justice Department press releases mention the length of possible sentences if convicted.  This one doesn’t.  But for child porn it could mean a lot of years behind bars since Akinlapa is 18 years old—possibly a lot of years US taxpayers will be paying for his upkeep.

And, unless some local reporter is interested enough to dig deeper (unlikely in Rhode Island), I’m thinking this is the end of the story.

Nigerian Fraud Ring at Work Ripping Off America Again

As our Chinese virus-generated economic collapse continues, helping to move that process along, the Secret Service is investigating a complex Nigerian fraud scheme to rip us off using the unemployment assistance meant for Americans who have lost their jobs.

Several states have been hit so far by the “sophisticated” attack, but authorities believe the hit will become more widespread.

Nigerian fraudsters have played a major role on the pages of ‘Frauds and Crooks.’  See my Nigeria tag!

From the New York Times:

Feds Suspect Vast Fraud Network Is Targeting U.S. Unemployment Systems

 

SEATTLE — A group of international fraudsters appears to have mounted an immense, sophisticated attack on U.S. unemployment systems, creating a network that has already siphoned millions of dollars in payments that were intended to avert an economic collapse, according to federal authorities.

The attackers have used detailed information about U.S. citizens, such as social security numbers that may have been obtained from cyber hacks of years past, to file claims on behalf of people who have not been laid off, officials said. The attack has exploited state unemployment systems at a time when they are straining to process a crush of claims from an employment crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.

Suzi LeVine

With many states rushing to pay claims, payments have gone straight to direct-deposit accounts. In Washington State, the agency tasked with managing unemployment claims there began realizing the extent of the problem in recent days when still-employed people called to question why they had received confirmation paperwork in the mail.

“This is a gut punch,” said Suzi LeVine, the commissioner of Washington State’s Employment Security Department.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, investigators from the U.S. Secret Service said they had information suggesting that the scheme was coming from a well-organized Nigerian fraud ring and could result in “potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” Roy Dotson, a special agent who specializes in financial fraud at the Secret Service, said in an interview investigators were still working to pinpoint who was involved and exactly where they were.

[….]

Mr. Dotson said it appeared the fraud was being aided by a substantial number of “mules” — people, often in the United States, who were used as intermediaries for money laundering after making connections with fraudsters online. He warned people to be wary of quick-money job offers or other suspicious financial arrangements.

The Secret Service memo said Washington State had emerged as the primary target thus far, but there was also evidence of attacks in Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Wyoming. The agency warned that every state was vulnerable and could be targeted, noting that the attackers appeared to have extensive records of personally identifiable information, or P.I.I.

[….]

Ms. LeVine said she did not want to put a number on the losses so far in Washington State but believed it was in the millions of dollars.

More here.

One more reason that the Trump Administration should be praised for making it harder for Nigerians to get into the US!

Stopping Fraud Against Seniors a Top Priority for the Attorney General

Keep this number handy!

AG Bill Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray announced this week that an unprecedented number of cases of fraud against senior Americans have been charged or prosecuted and announced a hotline where you can report suspected fraud and help them catch more of the crooks, often foreign crooks, stealing from older Americans.

From CBS News  (good for them because I have seen very little elsewhere about this story from Tuesday):

Barr announces more than 400 charged for defrauding seniors over past year

Washington — More than 400 people have been charged with defrauding seniors out of more than $1 billion over the past year, the Justice Department revealed Tuesday. Attorney General William Barr announced the charges in Tampa on Tuesday at the Sun City Center Community Hall for seniors.

Barr explained why this issue has personal meaning for him. “I myself was used as a lure in a scam,” the attorney general told retirees. Before he became the nation’s 85th attorney general, the 1991 official photograph of Barr from his first stint in in the job in George H.W. Bush’s administration was used by scammers offering phony federal grants in exchange for money. “It was really heart-wrenching. People called in desperate hope that this was real,” Barr explained. “That crystalized the issue for me, and when I got to the department I wanted to make sure that this was one of our highest priorities to go after this.”

Fraud ring busted in 2019. https://qz.com/africa/1693540/fbi-bust-of-nigerian-email-fraud-shows-evolving-scam-tactics/

[….]

Barr has made elder fraud one of his top priorities as attorney general, and Tuesday’s announcement nearly doubles last year’s prosecutions.

Every U.S. attorney’s office across the country participated in either prosecuting or conducting proactive community outreach as part of the department’s sweep.

[….]

Scams targeting the elderly are usually foreign-based, like the “Nigerian prince” scheme or robocalls involving the impersonation of a U.S. government official who demands money from targets.

“The charges announced today demonstrate the great success of the Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force to identify and stop those who are targeting our senior communities from overseas,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “We’re committed to continuing our efforts to keep our elderly citizens safe, whether they’re being targeted door-to-door, over the phone, or online.”

More here.

And, see the FBI Press Release on the announcement which includes a link to an interactive US map so you can see where some of the 400 cases are being prosecuted.

As I have said on innumerable occasions the President should be highlighting this fraud-busting work of his Justice Department, like this Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force , at every one of his rallies.

 

Note to PayPal donors!  I want to thank all of you who send me donations for my work via PayPal. I very much appreciate your thoughtfulness. However, PayPal is making changes to their terms of service and I’ve decided to opt-out beginning on March 10, 2020.

Nigerian ‘Expert’ Questioned about his Thesis that Brain Damage in Contact Sports is Widespread

As many of you are looking forward to a favorite social event of the year—the Super Bowl—the Washington Post of all places published a long and detailed investigation into the man, a Nigerian doctor, who claims to be the father of what he describes as a massive medical crisis—CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

Reader Cristina sent this story because she knows of ‘Frauds and Crooks’ interest in Nigerian fraudsters and criminals.  I’m not saying his work is completely baseless, but it is interesting to see that the Washington Post is dancing around that theme.

Anyone raising kids involved in sports these days is thinking about this subject, so read it all.  I’ve only snipped the opening paragraphs:

From scientist
to salesman

How Bennet Omalu, doctor of ‘Concussion’
fame, built a career on distorted science

In 2017, Bennet Omalu traveled the globe to accept a series of honors and promote his autobiography, “Truth Doesn’t Have A Side.”

In 2016, Dr. Omalu hypothesized that Hillary had been poisoned and that is what caused her to stumble as she left the World Trade Center site. https://slate.com/technology/2016/09/dr-bennet-omalu-suspects-hillary-clinton-was-poisoned-why.html

In a visit to an Irish medical school, he told students he was a “nobody” who “discovered a disease in America’s most popular sport.”

In an appearance on a religious cable TV show, he said he named the disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, because “it sounded intellectually sophisticated, with a very good acronym.”

And since his discovery, Omalu told Sports Illustrated, researchers have uncovered evidence that shows adolescents who participate in football, hockey, wrestling and mixed martial arts are more likely to drop out of school, become addicted to drugs, struggle with mental illness, commit violent crimes and kill themselves.

A Nigerian American pathologist portrayed by Will Smith in the 2015 film, “Concussion,” Omalu is partly responsible for the most important sports story of the 21st century. Since 2005, when Omalu first reported finding widespread brain damage in a former NFL player, concerns about CTE have inspired a global revolution in concussion safety and fueled an ongoing existential crisis for America’s most popular sport. Omalu’s discovery — initially ignored and then attacked by NFL-allied doctors — inspired an avalanche of scientific research that forced the league to acknowledge a link between football and brain disease.

Nearly 15 years later, Omalu has withdrawn from the CTE research community and remade himself as an evangelist, traveling the world selling his frightening version of what scientists know about CTE and contact sports. In paid speaking engagements, expert witness testimony and in several books he has authored, Omalu portrays CTE as an epidemic and himself as a crusader, fighting against not just the NFL but also the medical science community, which he claims is too corrupted to acknowledge clear-cut evidence that contact sports destroy lives.

After more than a decade of intensive research by scientists from around the globe, the state of scientific knowledge of CTE remains one of uncertainty. Among CTE experts, many important aspects of the disease — from what symptoms it causes, to how prevalent or rare it is — remain the subject of research and debate.

But across the brain science community, there is wide consensus on one thing: Omalu, the man considered by many the public face of CTE research, routinely exaggerates his accomplishments and dramatically overstates the known risks of CTE and contact sports, fueling misconceptions about the disease, according to interviews with more than 50 experts in neurodegenerative disease and brain injuries, and a review of more than 100 papers from peer-reviewed medical journals.

Omalu did not discover CTE, nor did he name the disease.The alarming statistics he recites about contact sports are distorted, according to the author of the studies that produced those figures. And while Omalu cultivates a reputation as the global authority on CTE, it’s unclear whether he is diagnosing it correctly, according to several experts on the disease.

Read more here, apparently the jury is out, but if you have young athletes at home, definitely read it all.

See today at RRW that the President has added Nigeria to the list of countries facing travel restrictions to the US.