January 25, 2022

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Justice Department Warns About Fake Unemployment Benefit Websites

9 min read
<div>The Department of Justice has received reports that fraudsters are creating websites mimicking unemployment benefit websites, including state workforce agency (SWA) websites, for the purpose of unlawfully capturing consumers’ personal information.</div>
The Department of Justice has received reports that fraudsters are creating websites mimicking unemployment benefit websites, including state workforce agency (SWA) websites, for the purpose of unlawfully capturing consumers’ personal information.

More from: March 4, 2021

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  • Priority Open Recommendations: Department of State
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the Department of State. Since then, State has implemented 3 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to improve embassy construction planning and agency reform efforts. In May 2021, GAO identified 2 additional priority recommendations for State, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas: improving the security assistance vetting process; improving data quality; improving workforce management; improving embassy construction planning; improving cybersecurity;  complying with congressional reporting requirements. State’s continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in its operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or melitot@gao.gov.
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  • Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt Delivers Remarks at Health Care Fraud Takedown Press Conference
    In Crime News
    Good morning and thank you for joining us today. We are here this morning to announce the results of truly historic nationwide law enforcement operations led by the Criminal Division’s Health Care Fraud Strike Force Program — part of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
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  • Conviction of Three Members of the Independent Journalists Association of Vietnam
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Indian Health Service: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Federal Facilities’ Decision-Making About the Use of Funds
    In U.S GAO News
    The Indian Health Service's (IHS) oversight of federally operated health care facilities' decision-making process about the use of funds has been limited and inconsistent. Funds include those from appropriations, as well as payments from federal programs, such as Medicaid and from private insurance, for care provided by IHS to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). While some oversight functions are performed at IHS headquarters, the agency has delegated primary responsibility for the oversight of health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds to its area offices. Area office officials said the oversight they provide has generally included (1) reviewing facilities' scope of services, and (2) reviewing facilities' proposed expenditures. However, GAO's review found that this oversight was limited and inconsistent across IHS area offices, in part, due to a lack of consistent agency-wide processes. While IHS officials from all nine area offices GAO interviewed said they reviewed facilities' scope of services and coordinated with tribes when doing so, none reported systematically reviewing the extent to which their facilities' services were meeting local health needs, such as by incorporating the results of community health assessments. Such assessments can involve the collection and assessment of data, as well as the input of local community members and leaders to identify and prioritize community needs. These assessments can be used by facilities to assess their resources and identify priorities for facility investment. While IHS has identified such assessments as a priority, the agency does not require federally operated facilities to conduct such assessments or require the area offices to use them as they review facilities' scope of services. To ensure that facilities are effectively managing their resources, IHS has a process to guide its review of facilities' proposed construction projects that cost at least $25,000. However, IHS does not have a similar process to guide its oversight of other key proposed expenditures, such as those involving the purchase of major medical equipment, the hiring of providers, or the expansion of services. Specifically, GAO found limitations and inconsistencies with respect to requiring a documented justification for proposed expenditures; documenting the review and approval of decisions; and conducting an impact assessment on patient access, cost, and quality of care. The limitations and inconsistencies that GAO found in IHS's oversight are driven by the lack of consistent oversight processes across the area offices. Without establishing a systematic oversight process to compare federally operated facilities' current services to population needs, and to guide the review of facilities' proposed expenditures, IHS cannot ensure that its facilities are identifying and investing in projects to meet the greatest community needs, and therefore that federal resources are being maximized to best serve the AI/AN population. IHS, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides care to AI/AN populations through a system of federally operated and tribally operated health care facilities. AI/AN have experienced long standing problems accessing needed health care services. GAO has previously reported that IHS has not been able to pay for all eligible health care services; however, the resources available to federally operated facilities have recently grown. This report assesses IHS oversight of federal health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds. GAO reviewed IHS policies and documents; and interviewed IHS officials from headquarters, nine area offices, and three federally operated facilities (two hospitals and one health clinic). GAO recommends that IHS develop processes to guide area offices in (1) systematically assessing how federally operated facilities will effectively meet the needs of their patient populations, and (2) reviewing federal facilities' spending proposals. HHS concurred with these recommendations. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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  • Justice Department Seeks to Shut Down Fraudulent Chicago-Area Tax Return Preparer
    In Crime News
    The United States has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, seeking to enjoin a tax preparer from South Chicago Heights, Illinois, from preparing federal income tax returns for others.
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  • Aircraft Carriers: Homeport Changes Are Primarily Determined by Maintenance Requirements
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Navy has a process for proposing and implementing homeport changes that considers a range of factors. The first key step in this process involves the Navy developing and updating an annual plan, known as the Strategic Laydown and Dispersal Plan, that guides the Navy's positioning of operating forces worldwide. Based on the plan, fleet commanders then identify requirements for any changes to homeports and submit requests to schedule a homeport change. Throughout the process, Navy leadership and a working group of stakeholders from across the Navy provide input and analysis. Among other things , the working group develops and assesses proposed changes among the possible aircraft carrier homeports based on their expertise and evaluates various homeport installation factors, such as maintenance dry docks (see figure) or ship power and maintenance facilities. The Navy also considers local factors including crew support and quality of life, such as schools and morale, and possible impacts to the natural and physical environment. The Navy has strengthened its process by implementing prior GAO recommendations, and has other planned actions underway to further improve and update its guidance. Recent Navy Aircraft Carrier Homeport Locations and Dry Dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard The Navy made 15 aircraft carrier homeport changes in fiscal years 2011 through 2020 among the five available homeports. The driving factor for all 15 changes was maintenance. For example, 10 of the 15 changes involved ships moving to or returning from shipyards in Bremerton or Norfolk for planned dry-dock maintenance or midlife refueling. In 2015 and 2019, the Navy decided to homeport aircraft carriers in Bremerton and San Diego because Everett lacked nuclear maintenance facilities, which were available at the Navy's other aircraft carrier homeport locations. Previously, carriers homeported in Everett received regularly scheduled maintenance at the shipyard in Bremerton but did not conduct an official homeport change. The Navy reported that during these maintenance periods that lasted 6 months or more, the crew commuted 3 to 4 hours daily, which negatively affected maintenance and crew morale. As a result, the Navy decided not to return an aircraft carrier to Everett. According to Navy officials, factors in addition to maintenance needs also informed the changes, including a long-held plan to homeport three aircraft carriers in San Diego. Why GAO Did This Study The Navy relies on 11 aircraft carriers homeported on the East and West Coasts and in Japan to support U.S. defense strategic objectives and operations. These nuclear-powered ships require complex infrastructure, technology, and maintenance, some of which may not be available near their homeport. Changing an aircraft carrier's homeport means moving the ship's approximately 3,200 sailors, a fluctuation of 5,000 or more people depending on the number of family members involved. In House Report 116-120, accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, the House Armed Services Committee noted that the Navy reversed previous plans to homeport an aircraft carrier at Naval Station Everett, Washington. The House Report also included a provision for GAO to review the Navy's process to assign aircraft carriers' homeports. This report examines, for Navy aircraft carriers, (1) the extent to which the Navy has a process for making homeport changes, and considers local installation and other factors in the homeporting process, and (2) homeport changes from fiscal years 2011 through 2020 and the reasons for them. GAO analyzed Navy instructions and related policies, laws, and regulations; homeport plans and maintenance schedules; and fiscal years 2011–2020 documentation of homeport changes. GAO also interviewed Navy officials, including from relevant commands and homeports. For more information, contact Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or MaurerD@gao.gov.
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  • DRL Syrian Women’s Participation in Transitional Justice Processes
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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    In Travel
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  • Sutter Health and Affiliates to Pay $90 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations of Mischarging the Medicare Advantage Program
    In Crime News
    Sutter Health, a California-based health care services provider, and several affiliated entities including Sutter Bay Medical Foundation (dba Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, and Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation) and Sutter Valley Medical Foundation (dba Sutter Gould Medical Foundation and Sutter Medical Foundation) (collectively, “Sutter Health”), have agreed to pay $90 million to resolve allegations that Sutter Health violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans.
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  • Commemoration of the Massacre of Mahshahr and Designation of Iranian Officials Due to Involvement in Gross Violations of Human Rights
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • At the One Year Anniversary of the Abraham Accords: Normalization Agreements in Action
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Six Men Charged for Roles in Scheme to Defraud Businesses of Luxury Goods and Services
    In Crime News
    Six men were charged in an indictment unsealed on Wednesday for their alleged participation in a nation-wide scheme to defraud dozens of businesses across the United States of luxury goods and services announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling of the District of Massachusetts.
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  • Dominica’s Independence Day
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Final Defendant Sentenced to More than 17 Years in MS-13 Case
    In Crime News
    An MS-13 gang member was sentenced Tuesday to more than 17 years in federal prison for his role in a brutal machete attack at an apartment complex in Dallas, Texas.
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  • North Carolina Tax Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding IRS
    In Crime News
    A North Carolina tax return preparer was sentenced today to 20 months in prison for conspiring to defraud the IRS.
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  • Two Louisiana Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Tax Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    Two Louisiana tax preparers pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
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  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Cost and Schedule Risks in Modernization Program Echo Long-Standing Challenges
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found While the Department of Defense (DOD) approaches its full-rate production decision point (which would formally authorize DOD's transition from development to full production), the F-35 program is producing nearly 25 percent of the total planned aircraft in low-rate initial production before satisfying the criteria for full-rate production. As it approaches this major milestone, the program has taken steps to but has not fully addressed a number of challenges, even though GAO recommended that it do so, such as the need to: resolve critical deficiencies with the aircraft; ensure critical manufacturing processes are mature; address supply chain issues that strain production and sustainment; and take steps to ensure reliability and maintainability goals are met. Compounding these production issues is the fact that the program has not completed operational testing on the aircraft to ensure warfighters get the capabilities they require, primarily due to increasing delays with the aircraft simulator. In August 2020, the program office determined the simulator—to be used to replicate complex test scenarios that could not be accomplished in real-world environment testing—did not fully represent F-35 capabilities and could not be used for further testing until fixed. Since then, program officials have been developing a new plan to ensure the simulator works as intended. Until this happens, the full-rate production date remains undetermined (see figure). F-35 Operational Test Schedule and Key Events through 2021, as of June 2021 At the same time that the program is resolving risks with the baseline program, DOD is encountering similar cost and schedule increases with its F-35 modernization effort. In the 3 years of Block 4 capability development, the total estimated cost of Block 4 increased from $10.6 billion to $14.4 billion. This increase is, in part, a recognition of all costs, past and future, estimated to be required to complete the effort. As GAO recommended in May 2020, DOD now reports all Block 4 costs, not just those associated with the near term. While DOD added another year to the Block 4 schedule, in March 2021 GAO found the remaining development time frame is not achievable. Unless the F-35 program accounts for historical performance in the schedule estimates, the Block 4 schedule will continue to exceed estimated time frames and stakeholders will lack reliable information on when the modernized capabilities will be delivered. Why GAO Did This Study The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program began development in 2001 and remains DOD's most expensive weapon system program. Currently, the program is more than 8 years delayed and $165 billion over original cost expectations. As the program progresses toward completing operational testing of the aircraft's baseline capabilities, it still faces risks. DOD is also 3 years into an effort, called Block 4, to modernize the F-35 aircraft's capabilities. Block 4 is loosely based on Agile software development processes. With this approach, DOD intends to incrementally develop, test, and deliver small groups of new capabilities every 6 months. This testimony discusses acquisition-related risks in the F-35 program. It is based largely on findings in GAO's March 2021 and May 2020 annual reports (GAO-21-226; GAO-20-339) on F-35 acquisition.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken Introductory Remarks for President Biden
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  • Broadband: FCC is Taking Steps to Accurately Map Locations That Lack Access
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was tasked in the 2020 Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (Broadband DATA Act) to create a location fabric, which is a dataset of all locations or structures in the U.S. that could be served by broadband, over which broadband deployment data can be overlaid. The purpose of this data collection effort is to improve the granularity and precision of FCC's broadband deployment mapping, which will allow FCC to more precisely assess where Americans still lack access to broadband. As a start, FCC has hired a data architect and met with data companies and states to identify options. FCC has issued a request for proposals for a product to meet FCC's location fabric needs. Additionally, FCC officials said that the data company that generates the location fabric will be responsible for developing a process for state, local, and tribal entities, and others to question and correct fabric location data to improve their accuracy, as required by the law. Stakeholders GAO interviewed identified challenges FCC faces with developing a location fabric, including incomplete or conflicting data sources, but said that such challenges can be overcome by using multiple sources of data. For example, according to stakeholders, there is no one source of location data that will be sufficient for FCC and its contract data company to develop a precise location fabric; therefore, it is necessary to integrate four main types of data to have a complete location fabric, as shown in the figure. These data can be sourced from federal, state, local, and commercial sources. State-level pilots have shown that overlaying these data increases the accuracy of the location fabric and addresses the limitation that some sources have incomplete data. FCC will need to manage other challenges as well, such as use restrictions. Figure: Mapping Broadband Serviceable Locations Using the Four Key Data Types Why GAO Did This Study Broadband is critical for commercial, educational, and social functions. While most Americans have access to broadband, many still do not—a gap known as the digital divide. To help close this divide, federal programs provide funding to support broadband deployment in unserved areas. According to FCC, these programs rely on data FCC collects from broadband providers to identify which areas are and are not served to target their limited funds. However, GAO has raised concerns about FCC's data for lacking accuracy and overstating service. FCC has been measuring broadband deployment by counting an entire census block as served if a provider reports that it offers service to at least one location in the census block. This method can overstate the extent of broadband deployment if the data show that a census block has broadband but not all locations in the census block are actually served. FCC began an effort in 2017 to improve its broadband data, and, in 2020, the Broadband DATA Act required FCC to develop a location fabric. The Broadband DATA Act included a provision for GAO to assess key data sources that may be used to develop a location fabric. This report (1) describes FCC's progress in developing a location fabric; and (2) describes challenges stakeholders identified that FCC faces in developing a location fabric. GAO reviewed relevant documents; surveyed officials in 54 states and territories; and interviewed officials from data companies, broadband providers, federal agencies, and states. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or VonahA@gao.gov.
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