About $ 100 billion has been stolen from Covid's aid programs set up to help businesses and people who have lost their jobs as a result of the epidemic, the Secret Service said on Tuesday.
The measure is based on Secret Service cases and information from the Department of Labor and Small Business Management, Roy Dotson, the organisation's national coordinator for fraud and corruption, in an interview. The Secret Service did not file Covid fraud cases prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
Although about 3 percent of the $ 3.4 billion is scattered, the money stolen from the epidemic benefits program shows that "the size of the pot attracts criminals," Dotson said.
Most of that number comes from cheating unemployed people. The Department of Labor reported that an estimated 87 million rand unemployment benefits were unpaid, a large part of which was created by fraud.
The White House downplayed the Secret Service's statement, saying that on Wednesday the rate was based on older reports.
"There is no new research, data or analysis of fraud here," White House news correspondent Jen Psaki said when asked about the fraud statistics.
A Secret Service spokesman said on Wednesday a clarification statement was added to the agency's website, which said the information was based on data from the Department of Labor and the Department of Small Business Administration and did not appear in the new Secret Service report.
The Secret Service said it withheld more than $ 1.2 billion while investigating unemployment and loan fraud and returned more than $ 2.3 billion in fraudulent transactions in collaboration with financial and provincial partners to postpone transactions. The Secret Service says it is investigating more than 900 crimes related to epidemic fraud, with cases in all provinces, and 100 people have so far been arrested.
The Department of Justice said last week part of its fraud prosecution of more than 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and withdrew more than $ 75 million from fraudulent acquisitions through the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as dozens of luxury properties purchased. for profit.
One of the most well-known programs created under the CARES Act of March 2020, PPP has provided low interest rates, which are offset by small businesses that are struggling to meet the costs and costs of a pandemic-related closure.
Lawmakers at the start of the epidemic were focusing on security-related fraud, the Secret Service said. Authorities have now prioritized the abuse of epidemic-related assistance because the organisation's funding under the CARES Act has attracted the attention of people and organized crime networks around the world.
“Can we stop cheating? Will we do that? No, but I think we can prosecute those who need to be prosecuted and we will do everything in our power to recover the fraudulent epidemic that we can get, ”said Dotson, a special Secret Assistant in charge of the organisation's sector. Office in Jacksonville, Florida.