$100 Billion COVID Relief Funds Stolen

According to the US Secret Service, almost $100 billion has been stolen from pandemic relief funds. Meanwhile, the agency arrested more than 100 suspects, while recovering a mere amount of $2.3 billion.

Criminals flee away with $100 billion

As per the Treasury Department data, Congress approved $4.5 trillion for the COVID relief funding, starting during Trump’s era and continuing to this very day.

While the government used $3.5 trillion, $100 billion has been stolen. Budget experts believe the total amount of funds can take time to reach Americans, due to the systematic, nitty-gritty details involved.

Primarily, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Labor have to go through a legal process called “obligating,” before spending money, which causes delays.

Roy Doston, an assistant special agent in charge of Secret Service, noted he had been in law enforcement for over 29 years, while working on complex financial fraud cases for more than 20 years.

However, he claimed, he never saw a fraud of this scale. Speaking to CNBC, Doston added the procedure to obtain the funds is extremely easy, which is promoting unprecedented fraud.

Likewise, he stated the program was available online to everyone, which gave criminals an opportunity to orchestrate the system.

However, Doston added nobody is at fault, because making the programs visible to everyone is needed to reach most Americans. The Secret Service has more than 900 ongoing investigations of the fraud.

Doston also stated apart from organized criminal groups and domestic groups, many individuals also robbed the funds, which makes this criminal episode complex.

He claimed the agency is busy tracing patterns based on its intelligence, which he could not disclose at the moment. However, he asserted Secret Service has successfully mapped out characteristics of different groups involved in the crime.

Exploiters used PayPal and Green Dot for financial transactions

Reportedly, criminals diverted funds from the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, an unemployment assistance program, and the Economic Disaster Loan program, which were actually supposed to help people hit hard by the pandemic.

Out of the total $100 billion stolen, hundreds of millions were sent to PayPal and Green Dot, as suggested by a Secret Service spokesman.

 

The spokesman also indicated upon the directive of the federal agency, many private sector companies overwhelmingly contributed to investigate and detect the fraudulent transactions in the name of the pandemic relief.

This helped the agency in recovering $400 million just from Green Dot and PayPal. A PayPal spokesman stated the company has a sophisticated system in place, which is used for fraud detection.

He also noted PayPal closely works with agencies to make payment gateways secure for customers. Likewise, a spokesman of Green Dot indicated bringing financial fraud cases to the knowledge of the Secret Service is of paramount importance.

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