NBC

‘Biggest fraud in a generation’: The looting of the COVID-19 relief plan known as PPP

Mar 28, 2022, 4:19 PM | Updated: Sep 19, 2022, 4:20 pm

Prosecutors said Mustafa Qadiri, 38, of Irvine used money from the Paycheck Protection Program to b...

Prosecutors said Mustafa Qadiri, 38, of Irvine used money from the Paycheck Protection Program to buy three cars that cost six figures each including this 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia. (U.S. Attorney's Office, Los Angeles/NBC News)

(U.S. Attorney's Office, Los Angeles/NBC News)

(NBC News) – They bought Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and Bentleys. And Teslas, of course. Lots of Teslas.

Many who participated in what prosecutors are calling the largest fraud in American history—the theft of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money intended to help those harmed by the pandemic — couldn’t resist purchasing luxury automobiles. Also mansions, private jet flights, and swanky vacations.

They came into their riches by participating in what experts say is the theft of as much as $80 billion — or about 10 percent — of the $800 billion handed out in a COVID-19 relief plan known as the Paycheck Protection Program. That’s on top of the $90 billion to $400 billion believed to have been stolen from the $900 billion COVID-19 unemployment relief program — at least half taken by international fraudsters — as NBC News reported last year. And another $80 billion potentially pilfered from a separate COVID-19 disaster relief program.

Read more on this story on NBC’s website and watch “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” at 5:30 p.m. on KSL Monday night.

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‘Biggest fraud in a generation’: The looting of the COVID-19 relief plan known as PPP