A year after the start of the pandemic, the Secret Service opened 690 unemployment insurance fraud cases, in addition to 720 other fraud investigations and inquiries and inquiries into loans and paychecks.
“The amount of unemployment insurance benefits provided in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in the history of the national unemployment insurance system,” said Larry Turner, the department’s acting inspector general. work. “Unfortunately, the significant increase in benefits has made the program a target for those looking to defraud government programs.”
In a recent hearing before House lawmakers, Secret Service Director James Murray said the agency’s approach to recovering stolen funds had evolved over the past year, from l stop scams and set up strong lawsuits. Murray also noted that the size of Congressional Covid relief packages is extraordinary and that work to root out fraud will continue long after the virus has slowed down.
“We have probably made over 120 arrests specific to Covid fraud alone,” Murray said. “It’s not something that is going to go away. The size of these packages is so noticeable and the opportunities that exist are going to be persistent, we will be fighting Covid fraud for many years to come.”
In March, the Justice Department announced that federal investigators had identified more than $ 500 million in fraud and charged 474 people with crimes related to the theft of funds designated by Covid-Relief.
Among prosecutors’ main targets were fraudsters who attempted to steal the paycheck protection program, with people handling schemes ranging from exaggerating their business expenses to bogus businesses to obtain funding. In a case in Texas, a man pleaded guilty to applying for $ 24.8 million in PPP loans by using the names of 11 different companies to apply for loans from 11 lenders. He managed to secure $ 17.3 million in forgivable loans and used that money to buy luxury homes, jewelry, and cars.