‘What didn’t happen was even minimal checks to make sure that the money was getting to the right people at the right time…’
According to NBC News, a troubling report claims that the multi-trillion-dollar COVID relief and economic stimulus packages of 2020 and 2021 may have been “the biggest fraud in the history of our country.”
There was sure to be some money going to the wrong places with the federal government handing out more than $5 trillion in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
NBC News, on the other hand, reported that unthinkably large sums of money—to the tune of “hundreds of billions” of dollars in taxpayer money —were likely falsely claimed and dispersed.
“Nothing like this has ever happened before,” said Matthew Schneider, a former U.S. attorney from Michigan. “It is the biggest fraud in a generation.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said COVID assistance programs were structured in a way that made them “ripe for plunder” in an exclusive interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt.
Individual payments and those made through the Paycheck Protection Program, he claimed, were both subject to inadequate oversight.
“The Small Business Administration, in sending that money out, basically said to people, ‘Apply and sign and tell us that you’re really entitled to the money,’” said Horowitz, the chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
“And, of course, for fraudsters, that’s an invitation,” he added. “… What didn’t happen was even minimal checks to make sure that the money was getting to the right people at the right time.”
Fraudsters went on state websites and took the names of existing businesses or registered fake new businesses, according to Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, who explained how embarrassingly simple it was for people to get undeserved money.
“There’s absolutely no security on there. There’s no validation of any information,” Talcove said. “And voila, you have company ABC with 40 employees and a payroll of $10 million. And you go and apply for a PPP loan. It was a piece of cake.”
To make matters worse, a recent inspector general’s report found that after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, the IRS distributed up to $64 million in stimulus payments to dead people.
These claims come after President Joe Biden submitted a new $5.8 trillion budget this week, which some conservatives are seeking to push back against.