Washington unemployment fraud might be $650 million

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington officials say they believe they have recovered about half of the hundreds of millions in unemployment benefits paid to criminals who used stolen identities to file claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials are still working to determine the final amount paid out fraudulently, but they believe it was between $550 million and $650 million.

To date, the state has recovered $333 million, and it hopes to reclaim more.

A West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches, such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach, is believed to be behind the fraud, which has targeted nearly a dozen states, according to California cybersecurity firm Agari.

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