The United States Secret Service has revealed that criminals have managed to steal nearly $100 billion in pandemic relief funds. The funds came from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program and another program that was used to distribute unemployment assistance funds across the country.
CNBC reports that stolen funds totaling $2.3 billion has been recovered by law enforcement and more than 100 suspects have been arrested. These suspects range from individuals to organized crime cells. By early 2020, nearly $3.5 trillion in pandemic relief had been handed out by the federal government. One piece of the U.S. Secret Service's work is financial investigations. As the pandemic opened the door to a new avenue of crime, the agency announced a new national pandemic fraud recovery director. This person would be tasked to supervise the investigation into a massive number of fraud cases related to the theft.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson has been named to the position. CNN reports that Dotson has never seen such massive fraudulent activity like this before. Dotson has been with law enforcement for nearly 30 years and worked on fraud investigations for two decades. Stealing the money has been easy for these crooks. Dotson says that with these programs online and easily accessible, bad actors were eventually going to get into the mix. $100 million in funds had passed through investment accounts. The Secret Service has more than 900 active investigations tied to the Covid-19 pandemic fraud.
These cases involve transnational organized groups, domestic groups, criminal groups and even individuals that take advantage of the system. So the investigations take different forms. The Secret Service has said that hundreds of millions were sent to Green Dot and PayPal. Along with the ongoing Covid fraud investigations, Dotson is also overseeing cryptocurrency fraud investigations, which have begun to spike.
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