Showcasing an act of true investigative integrity, the Secret Service successfully managed to seize nearly USD 286 million worth of stolen COVID-19 relief funds and returned the amount to the Small Business Administration which was operating the EIDL program.
The relief funds were reportedly stolen by imposters who used fake identities and forged credentials to apply for the Economic Inquiry Disaster Loans, which was a relief program intended for small businesses to recoup from the setbacks caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First spotted in Florida, a pivotal link to the scam appeared to be the Green Dot Bank, an online bank in Texas, where more than 15000 accounts were seized as the conspirators used these accounts to liquidate the loans and move the money around via the bank’s third-party system.
Elaborating on the incident, a spokesperson from Green Dot Bank claimed that the bank heavily prioritizes on the security of the accounts to prevent frauds while also focusing on co-operating with federal agencies in times of need.
Since 2020, the Secret Service has confiscated more than USD 1.4 billion in fraudulently acquired amounts and has successfully diverted nearly USD 2.3 billion to stare unemployment insurance schemes.
Notably, the Secret Service claimed that the amount of unethically obtained funds during such operations may reach a USD 100 billion according to the surveys conducted in December.
Further, the investigative team said that COVID-19 relief funds have alarmingly attracted individuals as well as criminal syndicates across the globe.
Commenting on their mode of operation, the Secret Service disclosed that criminals often take advantage of stolen Social Security Numbers, birth dates and other personal information to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
An upsurge in pandemic related scams led some states to temporarily freeze the discharge of unemployment payments, severely affecting several claims made by legitimate parties who lost their jobs.
It is worth mentioning that many of the fraudulent scams involved healthcare providers who were trying to cheat Medicare programs by unnecessarily adding charges for services that were not provided at all.