Criminals have stolen at least $100 Bln of pandemic relief funds that were set up by the government to assist businesses and private citizens who were affected by the covid-19 pandemic, the US Secret Service announced on Tuesday. The latter has more than 900 open criminal investigations, including cases in every state, and that 100 persons have been detained so far as a result of these investigations.
At least $100 billion of pandemic relief funds, which were set up to assist companies and individuals who lost their employment as a result of the epidemic, have been stolen by criminals, the US Secret Service said on Tuesday.
During an interview, Roy Dotson, the Secret Service’s National Pandemic Fraud Recovery Coordinator, said that the estimate is based on instances investigated by the agency as well as statistics from the Labor Department and the Small Business Administration. The Secret Service did not include COVID-19 fraud instances that were prosecuted by the Department of Justice in its report.
While just a small percentage of the $3.4 trillion in benefits distributed was stolen, the amount lost from pandemic benefit schemes demonstrates that “the sheer size of the pot is tempting to the crooks,” according to Dotson.
Unemployment fraud accounts for the majority of this number. According to the Labor Department, around $87 billion in unemployment benefits may have been wrongly paid, with a large percentage of this figure attributed to fraud.
As a result of its investigations into unemployment insurance and loan fraud, the Secret Service claims to have seized more than $1.2 billion in funds and returned more than $2.3 billion in fraudulently obtained funds by collaborating with financial partners and state governments to reverse transactions.
The Secret Service reports that it has more than 900 open criminal investigations into pandemic fraud, including cases in every state, and that 100 persons have been detained so far as a result of these investigations.
It was announced last week that the Justice Department’s Fraud Department had prosecuted more than 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and seized more than $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program funds, in addition to a number of real estate properties and luxury items purchased with the proceeds.
When the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, one of the most well-known initiatives was the Payroll Payment Plan (PPP), which provided low-interest, forgiving loans to small companies struggling to make payroll and other expenditures during pandemic-related shutdowns.
According to the Secret Service, law enforcement first concentrated on fraud involving personal protection equipment during the pandemic’s early stages. Officials have now placed a higher priority on the exploitation of pandemic-related aid because federal cash provided under the CARES Act has drawn the attention of individuals and organized criminal networks throughout the globe.