A cyclist rides past the U.S. Department building in Washington, D.C.Erin Scott/Bloomberg/Getty

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This story was originally published by ProPublica.

A Bronx man allegedly received $1.5 million in just ten months. A California real estate broker raked in more than $500,000 within half a year. A Nigerian government official is accused of pocketing over $350,000 in less than six weeks. 

What they all had in common, according to federal prosecutors, was participation in what may turn out to be the biggest fraud wave in U.S. history: filing bogus claims for unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. (The broker has pleaded guilty, while the Bronx man and Nigerian official have pleaded not guilty.)

Fraudsters have filed in high volumes, sometimes obtaining payments from multiple states, despite the fact that…

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