December 22, 2021
Back in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the United States designated some $3 trillion in COVID relief in order to help families, workers, and businesses weather the aftermath of the outbreak.
Around $100 billion out of $3 trillion in coronavirus aid in the United States appear to have been stolen, the US Secret Service revealed on Tuesday.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAIC) Roy Dotson was appointed to investigate pandemic fraud, with the Secret Service saying that there are more than 900 active criminal investigations into fraud related to coronavirus relief funds.
“That’s a combination of pandemic benefits and all the other benefits programs too. Every state has been hit, some harder than others”, Dotson said. “The Secret Service is hitting the ground running, trying to recover everything we can, including funds stolen from both federal and state programs”.
Among the affected funds are unemployment insurance (UI), US Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and grant programmes, and other benefit programmes.
Multiple agencies are involved in the investigation into pandemic fraud, with the Secret Service engaging with them through its Cyber Fraud Task Forces (CFTF). Dotson is also set to probe cryptocurrency investigations that involve “the use of unsuspecting victims as money mules to move stolen funds from one account to another within the cyber arena”.
As part of the ongoing investigation, the Secret Service said it had seized more than $1.2 billion and returned more than $2.3 billion fraudulently obtained funds. Additionally, some 100 people have been taken into custody, suspected of being responsible for UI and SBA loan fraud.
A massive coronavirus relief package in the US was introduced by the Trump administration in March 2020, envisaging over $3 trillion in aid for families, workers, businesses, state and local governments, along with American industry. The relief package consisted of four pieces of legislation: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement (PPPHCE) Act, and the Response & Relief Act.