Spotlight: China’s hackers hit COVID money 

Wisconsin Spotlight | Dec. 6, 2022

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-8th CD) says its long past time for congress to investigate China’s apparent role in the theft of U.S. COVID aid.

An NBC report revealed hackers linked to the Chinese Communist Party stole at least $20 million in taxpayer money.

Gallagher, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Armed Services Committee, said the new evidence makes clear that CCP hackers have defrauded U.S. government programs and stolen money from the American taxpayer.

“Even worse, this is neither the first nor the last time Chinese hackers will target U.S. institutions,”  he said.

As NBC reported, the theft of taxpayer funds by the Chengdu-based hacking group known as APT41 is the first instance of pandemic fraud tied to foreign, state-sponsored cybercriminals that the U.S. government has acknowledged publicly, but may just be the tip of the iceberg, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and cybersecurity experts.

“It would be crazy to think this group didn’t target all 50 states,” said Roy Dotson, national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator for the Secret Service, who also acts as a liaison to other federal agencies probing Covid fraud, told the news outlet.

Last year, reports surfaced claiming as much as $400 billion in federal pandemic relief may have been pilfered by cyber punks.

In June 2021, Gallagher led the Wisconsin Republican delegation in calling on Gov. Tony Evers to clarify his past and present efforts to prevent unemployment fraud during the pandemic amid reports of widespread fraud. The lawmakers asked the governor to publicize how many fraudulent claims were made by the state, what detection services he put into place, and whether he’s found that those detection services reduced fraud.

Gallagher said the lack of interest from Congressional Democrats on pandemic related fraud and on flagrant state-sponsored cyberattacks is baffling.

“When the Republicans are in the majority next Congress, we must properly investigate the theft of COVID benefits, which experts are calling the largest case of fraud carried out against the United States in American history,” the congressman said.

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