President Joe Biden isn’t taking pandemic fraud lightly. The President dedicated part of his State of the Union address to the topic. He announced he will work with a chief prosecutor to pursue the guilty offenders.
Investigations are underway after as much as $100 billion has gone missing from funds originally allocated to prevent economic hardship. POTUS didn’t hold back his feelings towards his predecessor, Donald Trump, and his effect on today’s financial issues.
“The previous administration not only ballooned the deficit with tax cuts for the very wealthy and corporations,” said Biden at the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday. “It undermined the watchdogs whose job was to keep pandemic relief funds from being wasted.”
Biden continued to voice his frustrations on the topic declaring that “the watchdogs are back.”
“We’re going after the criminals who stole billions in relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans,” said Biden. “And tonight, I’m announcing that the Justice Department will name a chief prosecutor for pandemic fraud.”
COVID-19 relief funds total a whopping $6 trillion. With that amount of money, it’s no surprise a number of people have taken steps to ensure they receive more than their fair share of the funds.
Biden is going after pandemic fraud
A former NFL player and reality TV star are among some of the suspects that may have wrongfully received funds. Prosecutors claim the monies went to frivolous items such as Lamborghinis, Rolex watches, and even a contract murder.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson will serve as the National Pandemic Fraud Recovery Coordinator as ordered by the Secret Service.
“The Secret Service currently has more than 900 active criminal investigations into fraud specific to pandemic-related relief funds,” said Dotson in a statement.
“That’s a combination of pandemic benefits and all the other benefits programs too. Every state has been hit, some harder than others.”
Schemes involve falsely obtaining funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in addition to unemployment insurance scams.
Over the course of both Trump and Biden’s administrations, there’s been a total of three rounds of relief funding.
One high-profile case involving unemployment fraud occurred in Garden Grove, California at Nguyen Social Services. According to Orange County prosecutors, the company was charging $700 to file false unemployment claims for people that didn’t qualify for COVID-19 relief funds.
Ten people are guilty in the case of fraudulent unemployment claim schemes. Prosecutors say this ultimately cost taxpayers up to $11 million. Nguyen Social Service ringleaders, Huy Duc Nguyen, Mai Dacsom Nguyen, and eight others will face charges of perjury and conspiracy to defraud another of property among others.
Local officials predict the Nguyen scheme is just one of many others happening across the country.
“This isn’t just an Orange County problem. It isn’t just a California problem,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
“This is a breakdown of catastrophic proportions that has failed the American taxpayer.”