Wednesday, June 16, 2021

As Expected, The Covid Emergency Spending Was Full of Fraud

Fraud and outright theft.  But we've known that.  Today, I ran into a story by libertarian economist Dan Mitchell detailing how bad it was, by pulling together a few stories. 

Dan begins by talking about another thing we all know about: people in general, and politicians in particular don't spend money the same way when they're spending their own money versus Other People's Money (OPM - the world's most addictive drug).  Someone on Reddit's Libertarian page came up with this memorable way of describing the situation.

Individuals buying for themselves and governments spending on various giveaways spend in opposite corners of this graphic.  Politicians trying to "do something" simply don't care about making sure the money is spent wisely.  That's charitable; they may be deliberately spending stupidly so friends, family, and others can get some of that filthy lucre, too. 

Axios has a depressing report on how the turbo-charged benefits that were part of the coronavirus legislation triggered staggering levels of fraud. 

Criminals may have stolen as much as half of the unemployment benefits the U.S. has been pumping out over the past year, some experts say. …fraud during the pandemic could easily reach $400 billion, according to some estimates, and the bulk of the money likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates… Blake Hall, CEO of, a service that tries to prevent this kind of fraud, tells Axios that…50% of all unemployment monies might have been stolen… Haywood Talcove, the CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, estimates that at least 70% of the money stolen by impostors ultimately left the country, much of it ending up in the hands of criminal syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere.

Wait.  The money went to Nigeria?  And no one got an email that they replied to stupidly? 

Mayowa is an engineering student in Nigeria who estimates he’s made about $50,000 since the pandemic began. After compiling a list of real people, he turns to databases of hacked information that charge $2 in cryptocurrency to link that name to a date of birth and Social Security number. In most states that information is all it takes to file for unemployment. …“Once we have that information, it’s over,” Mayowa said. “It’s easy money.” …prepaid debit cards issued by some state unemployment offices paved the way for fraud this year, security experts said. …Asked whether he feels bad about stealing from unemployed Americans, Mayowa pointed out that 70% of his peers in school are working the scams as side hustles, too.

But it wasn't just unemployment money; there were those stimmy checks, too.  

The federal government sent nearly 1.2 million “economic impact payments” authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to people who were dead and, therefore, not qualified to receive them, according to a report published today by the Government Accountability Office. …On its website, the IRS describes individuals who are not eligible for an “Economic Impact Payment”… “Taxpayers likely won’t qualify for an Economic Impact Payment if any of the following apply: … You can be claimed a dependent on someone else’s return. … You are a nonresident alien. … An incarcerated individual. A deceased individual.”

The stimulus checks were sent around the world.  A few weeks ago, I read a story about some people in Japan who had worked in the US before 2005 and got checks.  NPR has a story featuring people all over the world who got $1200 checks from Uncle Sam.  

Who would have guessed one of the big beneficiaries of the US handouts would be Italian luxury carmaker Lamborghini?  From a story at Reason magazine:

...carmaker Lamborghini has benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)… Within days of receiving $1.6 million in PPP loans for his construction and logistics businesses, Lee Price III of Houston bought himself a 2019 Lamborghini Urus for $233,337, plus a $14,000 Rolex watch and close to $5,000 worth of entertainment at a strip club and various bars around town. …His scheme was audacious but hardly original. The DOJ had already brought similar fraud charges against Miami man David T. Hines, who had allegedly spent his ill-gotten PPP loans on a new $318,000 Lamborghini Huracán EVO. …Loan recipients include companies founded by members of Congress and prominent D.C. lobbying firms. Presidential adviser Jared Kushner’s family businesses, including their media and real estate concerns, received PPP loans, as did the clothing brand of rapper and aspiring president Kanye West.

All of these are yet more examples of a fundamental truth; in the best of times, Government is the worst of ways to get things done.  In bad times it's even more worser.  “More government” is never the answer to any reasonable question. 



  1. And very little, if anything, will be done about it. Maybe some fines and restitution, but this is Grand Larceny; it deserves some serious jail time, which won't happen to but a few, less-connected individuals.

    We've finally passed being ruled by law.

  2. Wait... You tell me that there was much fraud and stupidity in all the Covidiocracy stuff? Involving the government and the Demo-Rino party? Nah... I don't see it...

    What did we all expect? We knew this going in, that there were earmarks and fraud built into the system. After all, the government couldn't manage the Katrina payments.

    On another note, did you see the article involving Gainesville parents finding out what exactly is living in the facemasks?

    1. Yes, I saw that story. I wasn't surprised so much that they found a bunch of stuff you'd rather not be exposed to; I was surprised at some of the specific pathogens they found. Diphtheria? Tuberculosis? An infectious amoeba?

    2. TB is everywhere. It is just looking for an opening, a weak immune system, or some system hit that it can exploit. And then, BAM, you've got it. It's why Consumption was a big killer back in the day.

      Diphtheria and Cholera are everywhere. Diphtheria was pretty much one of the top 3 killers of children until the vaccine for it was created. And, yeah, that's what the Iditarod re-creates, a life-saving dog-sled race to bring diphtheria vaccine to Nome, Alaska.

      Infectious Amoebas are everywhere in Florida and the South. Any pool of standing water either has mosquitos, amoebas or both. Yet another reason not to drink from standing pools.

      And every mask had at least three strains of Staph. And 3 different ways to catch death-pneumonia. And acne, and other skin issues. At least no cases of flesh-eating bacteria, well, virulent flesh-eating bacteria.

      Yay. Us anti-maskers were right. For all the right reasons.

      Back to the masks...

      Just think of all the things we are supposed to be vaccinated in childhood. Measles, mumps, rubella, cholera, diphtheria, tetanus, and several others that I can't remember. All of them are common, very common, everywhere except maybe Antarctica or deep under the water. All of them were big killers of children in even 'developed' nations until around WWII.

      Polio and TB? Killers of both children and adults until the 60's.

      Nothing has removed them from the environment. Polio has been slowed because of the world-wide vaccination movement. But it's still out there and affects people to this day.

      We just don't hear about people getting or dying of any of these diseases because they normally don't attack people here. They're present, in the environment and in us, but our immunities and healthy life-styles and living environments are what protects us.

      (Conversely, unhealthy life-styles and filthy living conditions are what made doctors during the 60's refer to afflictions and diseases amongst hippies and drug users by their old 1890's medical names, like 'Red face rash' and 'green fingernail syndrome' and other fabulous names. Because the friggin hippies and druggies were so unclean that doctors in America were seeing things that haven't been seen here in America since, well, the 1890's... And all the things that caused all those hippy diseases are still there. And found in turd-world countries. But not normally in America, well, until the hippies and druggies and now the waves of idiot illegal aliens and 'refugees.')

  3. It's typical, but so depressing. The size of government and the reach of government are inversely proportional to the freedom that we enjoy.

  4. The 2x2 matrix of spending priorities originated with the late Milton Friedman. It's extraordinarily illuminating, isn't it?

    1. The way I read Mitchell's description was that Milton Friedman came up with the concept and the person on Reddit put it in graphical form. I should have put that description in the text.

      It's an extremely clear way of getting those ideas across.

    2. Funny, it matches outcome for outcome with the Leadership 2x2 matrix.

      You know, the one that says there's 2 types of intelligence and 2 types of leadership styles.

      Active Intelligent - the best kind, but will run you ragged (Elon Musk)
      Lazy Intelligent - almost the best, maybe better than AI, because the lazy intelligent leader finds good followers to do most of the work.
      Lazy Stupid - because a lazy stupid leader is easy to do work-arounds around.
      The worst? Active Stupid - this is most graduates of Masters in Business are. They can fark up a wet dream, and will do so in the name of Progress, where "Progress" translates as "driving the company into the ground and dancing on it's dead hide."

  5. I'll admit up front that I'm suspicious if not downright paranoid.

    Remember the old gun culture saying that the guy asking all the questions about how to commit felonies is the fed?

    It's hard not to wonder if some of this was the money equivalent of a honey trap trying to tempt people like the Lamborghini guy.

    I mean, sure, there was lots of funneling money to cronies and increasing reliance on government and shutting down those pesky small businesses, but why not get some bonus benefits by also creating more criminals, right?

    1. Well, it's not like they don't try to create criminals all the time in every other area of life. There are so many examples of the doing that it would fill the comment space.

  6. Just wait. The proposed "infrastructure" bill being put together right now will be even worse. Three TRILLION in proposed spending.....and you can bet the farm the vast bulk of that money will be siphoned off as pork, bribes and graft.....we will be lucky if even 10% of it is spent on actual needs.