Guest Post: Atlas VPN Says That Government Documents & Benefits Fraud Surged 45x In 2020

Recent findings by Atlas VPN reveal that government documents or benefits fraud jumped 45 times in 2020. Most states have experienced a dramatic surge in fraudulent unemployment benefits claims filed by organized crime rings using stolen identities. 

In short, fraudsters are utilizing phishing scams, past data breaches, and other methods to collect information from individuals across the nation and file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.

Edward Garb, Cybersecurity Researcher at Atlas VPN notes, that:

 “Not only did government documents or benefits fraud reach an all-time high, but it even became the most prominent scam strategy in 2020.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 5,251 such complaints in 2019 Q4, while in 2020 Q4, the number reached a staggering 235,859 individual reports, representing a 4,391% increase.

Americans filed a total of 406,375 complaints regarding government documents or benefits fraud in 2020, which amounts to around 1,113 victims per day.  

Most people realize that they were a victim of identity theft when they get a notice from their employer or from their state unemployment benefits office regarding their supposed application for benefits. 

However, at that point, the funds have usually been transferred to the criminals’ account. Fraudsters then transfer the money through countless foreign accounts so that it would be nearly impossible to track down. 

Another note-worthy increase was in loan or lease fraud. This type of scam jumped from 32,295 complaints in 2019 Q4 to 59,900 in 2020 Q4, amounting to an 85% increase.

As a final note about the prevalence of identity theft in the US, the Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year.

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