Published on August 27, 2022 at 06:26
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 confiscation effort and those to come are a direct and necessary response to the unprecedented size and scope of pandemic relief fraud,” said Kevin Chambers, COVID Fraud Enforcement Director -19 at the Ministry of Justice.
Billions have been fraudulently claimed through 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 health insurance programs. state unemployment.
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”.
FILE – Attorney General Merrick Garland, looks on as Federal Attorney Kevin Chambers, right, after appointing him as the Justice Department’s chief pandemic fraud prosecutor, during a meeting of the Anti-Corruption Task Force coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fraud at the Department of Justice, March 10, 2022 in Washington. The US Secret Service recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic funds from the Small Business Administration on Friday, August 26. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE – A Secret Service agent is parked outside Ivana Trump’s funeral, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in New York City. The US Secret Service recovered $286 million in fraudulently obtained pandemic funds from the Small Business Administration on Friday, August 26. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)