Russian mobsters, Chinese hackers, and Nigerian scammers have used stolen identities to plunder tens of billions of dollars in Covid benefits, then distributing the money overseas in a massive transfer of wealth from U.S. taxpayers, officials and experts say.

And they say it is still happening.

 

Among the ripest targets for the cybertheft have been jobless programs. The federal government cannot say for sure how much of the more than $900 billion in pandemic-related unemployment relief has been stolen, but credible estimates range from $87 million to $400 billion — at least half of which went to foreign criminals, law enforcement officials say.

While the…

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