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Congressman Asks Google and Apple To Stop Facilitating Unemployment Insurance Fraud

MOGILEV, BELARUS-SEPTEMBER 18, 2019: Smartphone screen with icons of the social network Instagram, Skype, Telegram

April 27, 2022

After a ProPublica investigation revealed that the messaging service Telegram allows fraudsters to buy and sell stolen personal information for unemployment insurance fraud, Rep. James Clyburn has asked  Apple and Google to provide “all communications” between the companies and Telegram “related to fraud or other unlawful conduct on the Telegram platform,” as well as what policies and practices the companies have implemented to monitor whether applications disseminated through their app stores are being used to “facilitate fraud.” The companies’ app stores are vital distribution channels for Telegram. After the ProPublica inquiry last summer, Telegram shut down some public channels in which users advertised methods for filing fake unemployment insurance claims using stolen identities. Nevertheless, fraud tutorials are still advertised on the platform. Telegram’s business model features a hands-off policy in respect to misinformation. In a blog post, its CEO asserted that “Telegram gives its users more freedom of speech than any other popular mobile application.” Telegram is a key communication tool for authoritarian regimes, but it has also been cited as one of the rare places that Russians can find uncensored news about the invasion of Ukraine. Telegram “refused to engage” with the subcommittee in respect to unemployment insurance fraud, according to Rep. Clyburn’s office.

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