$100 Billion in Pandemic Relief Funds Stolen By Fraudsters, Secret Service Says

The size and scope of the fraud will never be known

The United States Secret Service has announced this week that it is investigating over 900 fraud cases linked to COVID-19 pandemic-related relief funds.

“The Secret Service currently has more than 900 active criminal investigations into fraud specific to pandemic-related relief funds,” said Roy Dotson, Assistant Special Agent in Charge. “That’s a combination of pandemic benefits and all the other benefits programs too. Every state has been hit, some harder than others. The Secret Service is hitting the ground running, trying to recover everything they can, including funds stolen from both federal and state programs.”

The Secret Service claims that they are aware of well over $100 billion in pandemic relief funds that have been stolen by fraudsters. The total amount of fraud is far higher, affecting all fifty states and dozens of countries. The total scope of the fraudulent payouts will never been known.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for over 29 years and worked some complex fraud investigations for 20 plus years, and I’ve never seen something at this scale,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson, who will serve as the national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator.

A mere $2.3 billion in stolen funds have been recovered so far.

The primary challenge in investigating the cases has been the “sheer scope” of the amount of fraudulent loans and unemployment insurance benefits distributed, Dotson explained.

In other words, the government made it so easy to steal pandemic money, that there will never be enough manpower to go after even a fraction of all the fraud taking place. The U.S. government even sent out billions of dollars to dead people and many billions more to citizens of other countries who are not eligible for the money.

“The Secret Service has seen a huge uptick in electronic crime in furtherance of these fraud cases,” Dotson said. “Criminals will often ask potential victims to open an account and move money for them for some reason as part of a ruse. Targeted individuals are often asked to open bank accounts and accept large sum deposits. As a result, people are becoming unwitting mules for stolen money.”

The Secret Service went on to say that much of the losses have come from come from unemployment benefits being improperly disbursed.

Dotson has since been appointed as the service’s coordinator of national pandemic fraud recovery. In this role, he will be teaming up with financial institutions, money service businesses, and federal agencies to track and recover as much of the stolen funds as they can.

The Secret Service’s statement added:

To date, Secret Service investigations and investigative inquiries into UI and SBA loan fraud have resulted in the seizure of more than $1.2 billion and the return of more than $2.3 billion of fraudulently obtained funds via Automated Clearing House reversals. These investigations have led to the arrest of 100 individuals responsible for UI and SBA loan fraud. The Secret Service continues to work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor and SBA Offices of Inspectors General (OIG), and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) on identifying and preventing these crimes.

The Secret Service has developed a national network of Cyber Fraud Task Forces for the purpose of preventing, detecting and investigating various forms of electronic crimes. These task forces are supported by the headquarters-based Global Investigative Operations Center with technical infrastructure, strategic guidance and expert knowledge. This unified approach toward preventing cybercrime has enabled the Secret Service to prevent billions in financial loss.

It was clear from the beginning that many stimulus checks were being sent out fraudulently. Many watchdog groups reported on the multiple scams infecting the well intentioned program early on. But politicians in Washington DC made it clear that their priority was to get as many checks out as quickly as possible.

Now, the American taxpayer is once again stuck holding the bag for one of the biggest financial government mistakes in history.


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