by Matt Zapotosky/Washington Post
Health Editor’s Note: COVID related schemes have become big business. While the coronavirus has been devastating the health and well fare of our lives, it has also been an opportunity for the evil to steal money. Why am I not surprised?…Carol
The Justice Department has charged 474 people over the past year with trying to swipe more than $569 million by using criminal fraud schemes connected to the coronavirus pandemic and seized at least $580 million in civil proceedings, officials announced Friday, demonstrating how taxpayer-funded programs meant to ease the economic burden of the crisis have become susceptible to scammers.
The department said it has seen fraud attempts connected to several government aid programs. The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, for example, has charged at least 120 people in connection with fraud of the Paycheck Protection Program, a taxpayer-subsidized loan program regulated by the Small Business Administration, which has long been of concern because of how program funds were disbursed with relatively little oversight.
The department said it had also seen immense fraud in connection with the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program, and, along with the Secret Service and U.S. attorney’s office in Colorado, had seized $580 million of possibly stolen money from that program through administrative procedures. That money, authorities said, is separate from the funds explicitly tied to criminal charges.
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