A new report by the watchdog group Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) reveals nearly 70,000 suspicious Social Security numbers that were used to obtain over $5 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds.
As reported by the Daily Caller, PRAC’s fraud alert report explains how the approximately 69,323 fraudulent accounts obtained the roughly $5.4 billion from the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which was provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), as well as the Payment Protection Program (PPP).
The study was compiled by data scientists who looked through over 33 million applications for funding through either the EIDL or PPP. They then cross-referenced the information with data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to identify invalid Social Security numbers, and asked the SSA for confirmation on at least 221,427 of the numbers that were used for such applications, further narrowing down the potentially fraudulent ones.
Both the EIDL and PPP were approved by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020, or the CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump. The SBA subsequently rushed the implementation of these programs, which made it easier to falsely obtain funds. The EIDL and PPP together provided over $1.2 trillion to small business owners and employees over the course of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, with over 11 million small businesses receiving aid; the EIDL provided $378 billion, while PPP handed out over $800 billion.
PPP applications were officially shut down on May 31st, 2021, while EIDL applications ended on January 1st, 2022.