The US Secret Service said on Tuesday that at least $100 billion was stolen from programs designed to help businesses and people who lost their jobs in the COVID-19 pandemic.
That estimate is based on cases the Secret Service has investigated and the Department of Labor and the federal Small Business Agency, Roy Dotson, the agency’s national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator, explained in an interview.
The Secret Service did not include cases of COVID-19 fraud processed by the Justice Department.
Although this is about 3% of the $3.4 trillion distributed, the amount stolen from the programs shows that “the sheer size of the loot is attractive to criminals,” Dotson said.
Much of that figure stems from unemployment aid fraud. The Labor Department reported that about $87 billion in unemployment benefits has been paid incorrectly, and that a significant portion is due to fraud.
The Secret Service said it has seized more than $1.2 billion in debt and unemployment insurance fraud investigations, and returned more than $2.3 billion in fraudulent funds by working with financial partners and states to reverse the transaction. Have given.
The Secret Service claims it has more than 900 open criminal investigations into pandemic fraud, cases in every state, and has arrested 100 people so far.
The Justice Department reported that its fraud section had prosecuted more than 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and seized more than $75 million in cash from the Check Protection Program fund, as well as numerous properties and luxury items purchased with the money. did.
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