The U.S. Secret Service announced stolen benefits from COVID-19 relief programs amount to nearly $100 billion.
Roy Dotson, national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator for the agency, told The Associated Press, “The sheer size of the pot is enticing to the criminals.”
According to a statement issued by the agency, the federal funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act “has attracted the attention of individuals and organized criminal networks worldwide.”
Dotson said the agency has “more than 900 active criminal investigations into fraud specific to pandemic-related relief funds.”
He added, “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 we can, including funds stolen from both federal and state programs.”
The agency also revealed that it has seized more than $1.2 billion and has returned more than $2.3 billion following investigations into unemployment insurance and loan fraud.
One hundred individuals have been arrested for fraud.
Last week, the Department of Justice said its fraud section had prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases since the beginning of the CARES Act.
It has “seized over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained PPP funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with such proceeds.”
“Through this task force, the Justice Department will work with other agencies to investigate and prosecute domestic and international criminals intent on exploiting relief programs for personal and financial gain — and recover stolen funds,” Biden said.
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