Secret Service: Pandemic Relief Funds - Nearly $100B seized by the Secret Service

The U.S. Secret Service reported Tuesday that nearly $100 billion has been taken from COVID-19 relief programs, which were set up to assist businesses and individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

Secret Service: Pandemic Relief Funds - Nearly $100B seized by the Secret Service

Roy Dotson (the agency's national pandemic recovery coordinator), said that the estimate was based on Secret Service cases as well as data from the Labor Department, and the Small Business Administration. COVID-19 fraud cases that were being prosecuted by Justice Department weren't included in the Secret Service.

Dotson stated that while only 3% of $3.4 trillion was actually dispersed, the amount taken from pandemic benefit programs shows that "the sheer size and appeal of the pot is attractive to criminals".

The majority of this figure is due to unemployment fraud. According to the Labor Department, $87 billion could have been improperly paid in unemployment benefits. A large portion of that figure can be attributed to fraud.

According to the Secret Service, it has seized more than $1.2Billion while investigating loan fraud and unemployment insurance. It has also returned more than $2.3Billion of fraudulently acquired funds through partnerships with states and financial institutions. According to the Secret Service, it currently has over 900 criminal investigations into pandemic-related fraud. There are cases in all 50 states and 100 people arrested.

The US population growth rate was the lowest in the first year of pandemics

Last week, the Justice Department announced that its fraud section had prosecuted more than 150 defendants in over 95 criminal cases. It also seized over 75 million dollars in cash proceeds from fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program Funds.

PPP was one of the most well-known programs that was created by the March 2020 CARES Act. It offered low-interest loans for small businesses who were unable to pay their payrolls or other expenses during pandemic-related shut downs.

The Secret Service stated that law enforcement was focused on fraud related personal protective equipment early in the pandemic. Because of the CARES Act's federal funding, authorities have prioritised the exploitation pandemic-related relief. This is because individuals and criminal networks around the world were attracted to it.

"Can we stop fraud? We can. But I don't think so. We can certainly prosecute those who need to be charged and we can do what we can to recover fraudulent pandemic funds," Dotson, the Secret Service's assistant Special Agent in Charge of Jacksonville's Field Office, Florida, said.

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