March 27, 2023
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US watchdog identifies $5.4B in potentially fraudulent COVID-19 loans

WASHINGTON — The US authorities probably awarded about $5.4 billion in COVID-19 assist to folks with questionable Social Safety numbers, a federal watchdog mentioned in a report launched on Monday.

The watchdog, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), mentioned it “identified 69,323 questionable Social Security Numbers (SSNs) used to obtain $5.4 billion from the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (COVID-19 EIDL) program and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).”

The loans have been disbursed between April 2020 and October 2022, the watchdog mentioned in its report, which comes forward of a scheduled Wednesday listening to by the Republican-led Home of Representatives Oversight Committee on fraud in pandemic spending.

About 57,500 Paycheck Safety Program forgivable loans value $3.6 billion have been disbursed by August 2020, the report added.

America is probing many fraud instances pegged to US authorities help applications, such because the Paycheck Safety Program, unemployment insurance coverage and Medicare. In Might 2021, Lawyer Common Merrick Garland launched a COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Process Drive.

Final 12 months, the US Justice Division tapped federal prosecutor Kevin Chambers to steer its efforts to research fraudsters who used the pandemic as an excuse to bilk authorities help applications.

The report demonstrates “the significant fraud and identity theft that occurred under the prior administration due to the lack of basic anti-fraud controls, as well as how consequential were the Biden administration’s quick actions to reinstate strong anti-abuse measures in these emergency small business programs,” Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to President Joseph R. Biden mentioned in an emailed assertion.

The watchdog report talked about that in 2021 the US Small Enterprise Administration made enhancements to its help program controls. Mr. Biden took workplace in January that 12 months.

In September, the inspector basic for the US Labor Division mentioned fraudsters probably stole $45.6 billion from america’ unemployment insurance coverage program through the coronavirus outbreak by making use of ways like utilizing Social Safety numbers of deceased people.

Additionally in September, federal prosecutors charged dozens of defendants, who have been accused of stealing $250 million from a authorities assist program that was imagined to feed youngsters in want through the pandemic. — Reuters

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