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Fraud: Peltola votes against crack down on Nigerian, Chinese, and prison-based Covid scams

Rep. Mary Peltola voted against H.R. 1163, an act designed to help recover fraudulent unemployment claims from highly sophisticated scammers and criminal enterprises. As much as 50% of the $655 billion in Covid unemployment payments that were issued were based on fraudulent claims, federal officials believe.

For example, in 2022, a Nigerian citizen pleaded guilty to Covid-19 unemployment fraud in Washington and 17 other states, with amounts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Abidemi Rufai, who at the time of his arrest was the special assistant to the governor of Nigeria’s Ogan State, used stolen identities to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars in pandemic-related unemployment benefits, according to U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. He was arrested at New York’s JFK airport in May 2021.

In another example, the Department of Justice indicted eight individuals – two who are prisoners – for conspiring to scam $25 million worth of unemployment benefits from California.

It’s unclear how much Covid unemployment fraud occurred in Alaska, and none appears on the map at the federal Pandemic Oversight Office, but California’s share of Covid unemployment insurance fraud is estimated to be between $18.7 billion, according to the the federal oversight agency, and $32.6 billion, according to Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Northern California, who voted for the bill.

Congress created three programs to provide unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. The programs expanded eligibility, extended the length of time someone could claim benefits, and added a weekly supplement to existing state UI benefits.

Together, the three programs issued nearly $655 billion in benefits.

But federal and state oversight work in recent months revealed that fraud in pandemic-related UI programs is rampant, with 22 states reporting incidences of fraud.

Fraud was so rampant that even Rep. George Santos of New York was indicted on Wednesday on 13 criminal counts, including fraudulently applying for and receiving unemployment benefits during the Covid pandemic, during a time when he had a $120,000 yearly salary working at an investment company.

Business owners are currently shouldering the burden of this fraud, as they are compelled to pay higher taxes to restore the funds that have been scammed. At present, states lack sufficient motivation to pursue cases of unemployment insurance fraud or recover illicit payments, since they do not retain any of the funds they manage to reclaim.

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act, which passed with the votes of the Republican majority, permits states to keep 25% of recovered fraudulent Covid funds and 5% of fraudulent regular unemployment funds.

Not a single Democrat in Congress voted for the bill. Peltola stuck with the Democrats.

The Protecting Taxpayers and Victims of Unemployment Fraud Act is intended to remove the liability from business owners who are having to foot the bill and place the responsibility for fixing their own mistakes on state governments that mishandled the federal unemployment money in the first place. 

“Business owners should not be on the hook for money that states allowed to be fraudulently paid out to people who did not deserve it,” Congressman Doug LaMalfa of Northern California said. 

“Billions of dollars in Covid money was lost to fraud, including to Russian, Chinese and Nigerian foreign scammers and even prisoners in prison for life. I support this legislation that will incentivize states to start taking this problem seriously and prosecute this fraud. Business owners have enough trouble trying to make ends meet and meet payroll without being financially penalized for the incompetence of bureaucrats,” said the Republican representative from California’s 1st District, which includes Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba Counties.

Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing
Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.
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35 COMMENTS

  1. Professional courtesy? Grifters gotta support each other?

    Thanks again to the afternoon drive talk show host and Queen Sarah for teeing this crap fest up.

  2. I would love to see a list of what businesses and how much they took from Covid funds to “stay afloat” in juneau. I sure saw a lot of new trucks being purchased and people on vacation in Hawaii.

    • Or for Anchorage, how about a list of Covid money filtered off to fraudulent nonprofits. It mostly didn’t reach the businesses. I don’t think your city has clean hands either, but maybe was the exception.

      • Many of the lefty Anchorage Assembly members personally profitted from homeless and covid…. Meg and Felix in particular, while forrest, chris, and adq created top cover …
        They also managed to hijack our local elections, voter fraud (clean up the rolls already!), mail in confusion and obfuscation…. As the ASSembly are in charge of elections clerk, talk about a bad situation, we are so screwed and Ms. Constant dies not listen. He is californicating anchorage.

    • So do the people who run the T shirt Company who were forced to be open year ‘round to move enough merchandise to pays bills.

    • It’s not about being hard, except that w/more complexity, there’s a lot more room for error and misuse. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity, and one vote. One vote would be fair, legal, simple and provide for more election secuirty.

      • 99.8% of ballots cast were cast correctly. I guess it’s only complicated for some people.

  3. Another huge thank you to Sarah Palin for giving us this big effing POS Peltola. Shes the biggest idiot in the US House and makes Alaska a laughing stock for all Americans.

  4. What’s with these dunce democrats! Do they have some type of brain wasting disease? I swear you can’t turn you back for a second without them doing something negative, it’s like they are unable to reason.

    • They follow the agenda set forth by the DNC, and they do NOT stray.
      Heard of frankists?
      She and her husbNd are complete frauds.
      Democrats are pure evil.
      RINOs (princess lisa) are pure evil.
      We must stand strong against the stirm.

    • In a little over a year we can vote her out, just gotta vote, something republicans don’t know how to do. 😉

      • If we even are a nation in 2026. Problem with our leaders they are following a leader running the herd to a cliff. God be with His church.

      • Yeah, under a corrupted and manipulated voting system. THAT will really work!
        Just vote HARDER! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

        You can’t vote your way out of tyranny.

        • Still waiting for proof you can’t provide.

          I know it hurts, but just like learning Santa is your dad (you did know that, right?) eventually adults learn tough truths.

          The problem isn’t the voting system as it is the crap quality of candidates and a lazy electorate.

          But for some it’s an article of faith, so…

  5. Please write to her and let her know she is not representing the working Alaskans. She may not change her ways but if enough people complain she may realize she is not going to last long in office either!

  6. The only Covid fund scams I saw were being run by oil field service companies, and they raked in millions (literally). The funny thing is that if you asked those guys what their political persuasion was, they would claim to be conservatives. What a crock.

    • Printing endless money with nothing to back it up? Runaway spending on things we can’t afford and don’t need?

      And then 40 year high inflation?

      It’s almost like anyone with a brain could have predicted it.

  7. Our government elect and community leaders i see they aren’t that smart by how it gives out money. This fraud is expected when you handout money, so don’t be angry just correct it. The people also must be leery of money given unearned. Business owners and churches made that choice to close or reduce service in 2020. They didn’t have to.

  8. The whole thing was a scam. From the scam virus, vaccines, masking, and handouts. A true fleecing of the American taxpayer on scale never seen.

  9. Of course she voted against it! Democrats made tons of money off Covid, hence their reluctance to end the gravy train.

  10. To all those dissing Palin: It’s not about Palin. It’s about RCV. It’s also about how Republicans can’t seem to get it together and rally behind a candidate. Have a darn primary already!

  11. It’s pretty obvious about Peltola. She is dumb as a post, and takes orders from the worst set of Woke Democrats, who chose her from the start, bought her and now control her. She gets to enjoy her notoriety and attention. Isn’t she great for Alaska?

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