Michigan lawmakers question unemployment director after $8.5 billion paid in fraudulent COVID claims

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LANSING, Mich. – The new director of Michigan’s unemployment office was questioned by lawmakers on Thursday.

Lawmakers want to know how $8.5 billion was paid out for fraudulent claims during the COVID pandemic. The audience heated up after a controversial new look at the books.

Julie Dale is director of the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. Lawmakers have accused her of concealing and deliberately misinterpreting staggering figures from a recent external audit.

Read: Unemployment problems in Michigan? Let us know

The audit by national firm Deloitte showed the agency had paid out $8.5 billion in fraudulent claims or overpayments.

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According to the audit, since the start of the pandemic, the state has paid out between $2.7 billion and $2.8 billion in claims to identity thieves and an additional $5.7 billion to people who intentionally misinterpret their employment status. Also included were nearly $4 billion the state overpaid, which the UIA chief said was partially or mostly included in the overall total.

The UIA director said almost all of the money came from federal funds. Even though it was still being distributed by the Michigan agency. She also said the expanded list of people allowed to claim unemployment changed at the start of the pandemic, which caused confusion.

Read: More unemployment coverage

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