Secret Service returns $286 million in fraudulently obtained COVID relief loans to SBA
On Friday, the US Secret Service returned approximately $286 million in fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief funds it seized from the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Economic Disaster Loans (EIDLs) seized by the Secret Service were obtained illegally by conspirators who submitted loan applications using forged or stolen jobs and personal information, the agency said in a press release. . Initiated by the Secret Service Field Office in Orlando, Florida, the investigation discovered that the suspects hid and moved the stolen funds using Green Dot Bank.
The agency said Green Dot Bank, a third-party payment system, helped the Secret Service identify more than 15,000 fraudulent accounts involved in criminal activity.
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“The OIG is focused on weeding out bad actors in these vital SBA programs,” SBA Inspector General Hannibal Ware said in a statement. “I would like to thank the United States Secret Service and our many law enforcement partners for their tireless dedication and focused commitment to ensuring justice is served.”
Kevin Chambers, the Justice Department’s director for COVID-19 fraud enforcement, said the seizure and future ones like it are a “direct and necessary response to the unprecedented size and scope of pandemic relief fraud,” the statement said.
Fraudsters likely fraudulently obtained billions of dollars in SBA-administered EIDL and Paycheck Protection Program loans. Earlier in August, President Joe Biden signed into law two bills aimed at holding accountable those who defrauded these programs.
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The Secret Service has launched more than 3,850 pandemic-related fraud investigations and investigations since 2020, the agency said in a press release. He seized more than $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained funds and helped return about $2.3 billion to state unemployment insurance programs during the same period.