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Audit finds Georgia state employees stole $6.7M in unemployment benefits

By Alexandra Parker

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    ATLANTA, Georgia (WANF) — A major audit by the Georgia State Inspector General (OIG) found that nearly 300 state employees stole over $6.7 million in state unemployment benefits. The stolen benefits were part of the larger $6 trillion in emergency spending meant to prop up the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The audit identified 280 employees who stole an average of $23,700 per person. The employees received the money in 2020 and 2021. The office interviewed approximately two dozen of the employees, including a Department of Human Services supervisor who stole nearly $50,000. Almost all of the employees interviewed have since been fired.

The office called interviewing the rest of the employees “an uphill, if not impossible task.”

The audit did not include employees who received less than $1,000, were part-time or “are no longer actively employed by the state.”

In a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp, the OIG requested the statute of limitations on pandemic-related fraud be extended and that the office be given subpoena authority to receive government records.

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