US Secret Service seizes $286 million in fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief funds

Aug 26, 2022, 12:27 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 11:25 am

(CNN) — US Secret Service investigators have seized $286 million in illegally obtained coronavirus pandemic relief funds, the agency announced Friday.

An investigation run by the service’s Orlando, Florida, field office determined conspirators fraudulently submitted small business pandemic relief loan applications “using fabricated or stolen employment and personal information,” the agency said. The US Secret Service said criminals used a third-party payment system and over 15,000 accounts to conceal and move illegal funds.

The US Secret Service has ramped up efforts to target criminals who unlawfully obtained pandemic relief funds two years since the coronavirus pandemic begun.

“Since 2020, the Secret Service has seized over $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained funds and assisted in returning approximately $2.3 billion to state unemployment insurance programs,” the agency said Friday, noting it had launched nearly 4,000 investigations.

David Smith, assistant director of the US Secret Service Office of Investigations, said by aiding in the return of nearly $2.3 billion in stolen funds over the last 30 months, the agency has demonstrated “a clear and firm commitment to the vitality of American businesses across the country.”

“The Secret Service is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of the nation’s financial systems against fraud and holding those responsible to account for their criminal activity,” Smith said in a statement.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed into law two bipartisan bills to address fraudulent criminal acts committed under pandemic relief programs. Both laws extend the time period prosecutors have to prosecute individuals who committed fraud through the Paycheck Protection Program or COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, extending the statute of limitations for criminal and civil enforcement against a borrower to 10 years.

In December, the US Secret Service tapped a senior official, Roy Dotson, to work with law enforcement agencies across the country on the issue. In April, federal prosecutors charged 21 people for allegedly seeking to defraud government health care programs of $149 million through a variety of pandemic-related scams, including selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and submitting claims for unnecessary medical tests.

In March 2021, a year after passage of the $2 trillion economic aid legislation, the CARES Act, federal investigators identified more than half a billion dollars in fraud and charged 474 people with crimes related to theft of money from Covid-19 relief programs.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE photo...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

Idaho ordered to pay $2.5M to transgender inmate for legal fees

A federal judge has ordered Idaho and its prison medical care provider to pay more than $2.5 million in legal fees to a transgender inmate who sued after she was denied gender confirmation surgery.
19 hours ago
surveillance image of possible shooter...
Associated Press

Killings of 5 men in California are related, police say

Rewards totaling $85,000 have been offered for information leading to an arrest in five fatal shootings since July in Stockton, California, that investigators believe are related.
19 hours ago
OREM, UT - FEBRUARY 21: A bump stock is installed on an AK-47 at Good Guys Gun and Range on Februar...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rejects bump stock ban cases, one from Utahn

The Supreme Court says it won't take up two cases that involved challenges to a ban enacted during the Trump administration on bump stocks. Those are the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns.
19 hours ago
The competitors allegedly used fillet and lead balls to weigh down their walleye. Anglers win based...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

Cheating scandal at Ohio tournament rocks competitive fishing world

The would-be winners of almost $29,000 at an Ohio fishing tournament were disqualified on Friday after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets.
19 hours ago
FILE - Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American activist, tells the audience at the Academy Awards ...

Sacheen Littlefeather, actor who declined Brando Oscar for him, dies

The actor and activist who declined Marlon Brando's 1973 Academy Award for "The Godfather" on his behalf in an indelible protest of how Native Americans had been portrayed on screen has died. Sacheen Littlefeather was 75.
19 hours ago
Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semi...

Russian court sets Brittney Griner appeal date for Oct. 25

A Russian court has set a date for American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
US Secret Service seizes $286 million in fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief funds