Secret Service recovers $286 million in stolen pandemic loans | Health, Medicine and Fitness

By FATIMA HUSSEIN – Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Secret Service said Friday it had recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic loans and returned the money to the Small Business Administration.

The Secret Service said an investigation by its Orlando office found suspected conspirators submitted economic disaster loan applications using fake or stolen jobs and personal information and used a bank in line, Green Dot, to conceal and move their proceeds of crime.

The agency worked with Green Dot to identify approximately 15,000 accounts and seize $286 million related to the accounts.

“This and future forfeiture efforts are a direct and necessary response to the unprecedented size and scope of pandemic relief fraud,” said Kevin Chambers, COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Director. 19 to the Ministry of Justice.

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Billions have been fraudulently claimed under various pandemic relief programs – including Paycheck Protection Program loans, unemployment insurance and others that have been rolled out amid the pandemic crisis that paralyzed global economies for months.

In March, the Government Accountability Office reported that while agencies were able to quickly distribute COVID-19 relief funds, “the trade-off was that they did not have systems in place to prevent and identify payment errors. and fraud” in part because of “financial management weaknesses.”

As a result, GAO has recommended several steps for agencies to prevent pandemic program fraud in the future, including better reporting on their fraud risk management efforts.

Since 2020, the Secret Service has launched more than 3,850 pandemic-related fraud investigations, seized more than $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained funds, and helped return $2.3 billion to security programs. state unemployment insurance.

The latest seizure included a collaborative effort between the Secret Service, the SBA Inspector General, the DOJ and other offices.

Hannibal “Mike” Ware, the inspector general of the Small Business Administration, said joint investigations will continue “to ensure that taxpayer money obtained through fraudulent means will be returned to taxpayers and that the fraudsters involved will be brought to justice.” justice”.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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