US Secret Service reveals billions stolen from COVID-19 relief funds

WION Web Team
Washington Published: Dec 22, 2021, 06:26 PM(IST)

The US labour department revealed there has been large scale fraud in unemployment benefits Photograph:( AFP )

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According to reports, the US Justice Department has so far prosecuted 150 people and seized $75 million in pay cheque protection fund scam.




 

In a startling disclosure, the US Secret Service has reportedly said that at least $100 billion has been stolen from coronavirus relief programmes in the United States.

The US labour department revealed there has been large scale fraud in unemployment benefits. The agency reportedly recovered $1.2 billion in unemployment benefits and loan fraud while returning $2.3 billion in fraud amount and over 900 cases linked to fraud committed during the pandemic is under investigation.

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According to reports, the US Justice Department has so far prosecuted 150 people and seized $75 million in pay cheque protection fund scam.

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Jessica Aber, the US attorney for the eastern district of Virginia had said on Monday that since the start of this year the agency had charged "30 defendants" with criminal offences based on fraud schemes connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency said frauds were related to the pay cheque protection programme (PPP), economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) programme and unemployment insurance (UI) programme.

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In the PPP fraud, the agency found individual business owners had inflated payroll expenses to obtain larger loans and serial fraudsters had applied for multiple loans using "false claims about business entities and income". 

In the unemployment insurance fraud scam the agency found criminal groups had targeted funds by using stolen identities to file for UI benefits. The agency also shut down fraudulent websites.

"COVID-19 demands have created a climate for bad actors to pursue unique and considerable opportunities for fraud," inspector general Michael J. Missal said.

The agency informed a person had allegedly stolen US mail addressed to more than 150 individuals while stealing over $700,000 in cheque, including $1,200 in COVID-19 stimulus payments.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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