Audit: Unemployment fraud likely higher than $647 million

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — New reports released by the state auditor’s office say the amount of fraudulent unemployment benefits distributed in Washington state during the height of the coronavirus pandemic was likely higher than the $647 million identified by the state Employment Security Department. The auditor’s office indicated that the amount could exceed $1 billion, but said that number can’t be confirmed until the department finishes working through questionable claims. In its written response to the reports, the department said that the higher number “represents a gross mischaracterization of possible fraud loss.”