ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A state investigation has revealed that billions paid out in pandemic-related unemployment benefits were fraudulent.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) said it found more than 200,000 bogus unemployment claims. A state audit determined that amount to be nearly $2 billion worth.

The claims were filed between July 2020 and June 2021 under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

The program was intended to help those who are not usually covered by unemployment insurance, such as gig workers or the self-employed, during the Illinois COVID lockdown.

Auditors said IDES failed to maintain accurate and complete data on claims.

The agency responded, saying it was working to improve its systems to prevent fraud, and that it still was able to stop roughly $4 billion in fraud claims.