I have a story out this morning about the staggering amount of unemployment fraud that has happened over the past year — as much as $400b. A quick 🧵:
First, yes, this data comes from security companies with skin in the game — ID.me and LexisNexis. Also, crime statistics are always fuzzy. There's nothing here that's precise. On the other hand, government sources aren't disputing these numbers.
The big picture is that unemployment fraud has become systematized. It's sold on a SAAS basis on the dark web, and it's operated by very sophisticated international syndicates in Russia, China, Nigeria, and increasingly Romania.
For a long time during the pandemic, states weren't fighting back against this fraud *at all*. They were too busy just trying to get their claims out. To this day, many states still lack the kind of fraud-prevention tools that are necessary.
Do I know for sure that the number is $400b and not $250b? No. But even the lower estimates I've been getting are still enormous — bigger than China's entire national defense budget.
Put yourself in the shoes of a crime syndicate that has worked out how to game the system. You're naturally going to steal as much as you can as fast as you can, before that window closes. What was stopping this? Very, very little.
Just got a quote from @genebsperling about this. "Widespread fraud at the state level in pandemic unemployment insurance during the previous Administration is one of the most serious challenges we inherited…"
“...President Biden has been clear that this type of activity from criminal syndicates is despicable and unacceptable. It is why we passed $2 billion for UI modernizations in the American Rescue Plan."

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More from @felixsalmon

1 May
I’m genuinely interested: Who is the man on the left, and what does the $2.1m number refer to?

Ed Ruscha’s “Hurting the Word Radio #2” was bought directly from the artist in the early 70s by Joan & Jack Quinn, for much less than $2.1m; they sold it for $52m. Image
cc @MasterworksIO who might be able to shed some light on this
Ok so mystery solved on who the man is, he’s a stock-photo model istockphoto.com/photo/ambition…
Read 6 tweets
28 Apr
My free idea for Substack: Allow people to pay for emails they’ve read and enjoyed, rather than forcing them to only pay for emails that haven’t even been written yet.
A subscription is a big commitment. But when I read a great email like @CaseyNewton’s yesterday, I would love to pay him a buck or two to say “thank you for doing that reporting, this was great.”
An ex-post payment system has other advantages. For one thing, it encourages broader distribution, rather than paywalls. For another, it’s a great real-time indicator of what your audience loves and values and wants to read more of.
Read 8 tweets
12 Mar
Where can I find the download link if I want to download the 21,069 x 21,069 Beeple that just sold for $69 million? Is that possible?
Found it! Here it is: ipfsgateway.makersplace.com/ipfs/QmXkxpwAH…

It really is an interesting artwork. For one thing, at least one of the Everydays is duplicated: Image
Also even at 21,069 x 21,069 resolution, some of the Everydays are so small that they get very pixelated if you try to zoom in on them. Image
Read 5 tweets
13 Sep 20
Here’s @andrewrsorkin on Friedman and stakeholder capitalism. His choice of words here — “making” stedda “growing” — is an important sleight of hand that often undergirds my debates with @Three_Guineas on this subject. nytimes.com/2020/09/11/bus…
Hotels are some of the longest-running businesses in the world. So let’s consider a hotel that has been run by the same family for 250 years. Its owners need to *make* money, sure. They’re rich capitalists. But they don’t need to *increase* their profits every year.
Since 1972, the idea of “shareholder capitalism” has morphed from “companies need to make enough money to be able to pay their dividend every quarter” into “companies need profit *growth* that will cause their share price to rise indefinitely.”
Read 5 tweets
8 Jul 20
These are two wildly different things, @nathanielpopper. How can you conflate them? nytimes.com/2020/07/08/tec…
@nathanielpopper If you’re dividing revenue by average account size, then obviously mostly what you’re measuring is the number of accounts, not revenue per account or per dollar.
This doesn’t make sense either. What is it supposed to mean that Robinhood trades 25,840 options contracts “for every dollar in the average customer’s account”? It’s a nonsensical metric.
Read 4 tweets
29 May 20
This "Catherine the Great" story in Tatler just broke my mind so I am going to have to tweetstorm it sorry
This is the lede. Um wat?
"gruelling" = 11 engagements in 1 month. (Next graf: "She’s working as hard as a top CEO.")
Read 15 tweets

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