Rep. Bos Calls for Hearings after Audit Reveals IDES Lost $2 Billion to Fraud

LAKE ZURICH – Yesterday, the Illinois Auditor General released its annual financial audit of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). The audit, which covers a 1-year period between 2020 and 2021, found that IDES lost nearly $2 billion to fraud from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. State Representative Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) is calling for immediate hearings into the massive loss of taxpayer dollars.

“Gov. Pritzker and IDES have repeatedly refused to provide the public with answers about the extent of the fraud and identity theft problems that have plagued the unemployment system,” said Bos. “Unfortunately, this audit seems to answer why. $1.9 billion went missing out of $3.6 billion for the PUA program. This is an unprecedented loss of taxpayer dollars, and, as auditors pointed out, IDES doesn’t even have adequate safeguards to protect Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund assets. We need immediate hearings to address these failings.”

As Bos noted, the audit found that the PUA program, created to provide unemployment benefits to workers not typically eligible for benefits, such as gig workers and the self-employed, paid out the majority of its funds to fraudulent claims from June 2020 to July 2021. After rampant fraud within the program became known in 2020, IDES and the Pritzker administration blamed it on poor federal guidance, all the while refusing to acknowledge how much money had been lost to fraud. However, a Chicago Tribune investigation published last year revealed IDES failed to follow federal recommendations for fraud prevention tools made available before the pandemic.

The audit released yesterday, as Bos referenced, indicated that IDES has not maintained various records of transactions to beneficiaries for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, nor does it have adequate internal controls to safeguard the fund’s assets.