Resident agency Fairview Heights, part of the FBI field office in Springfield, has organized a working group made up of federal partners, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Service (IRS-CI) and the Small Business Inspector General’s Office (SBA-OIG) to combat the Defense Program Payroll (PPP) and Disaster Injury Loan Fraud (EIDL).
PPP and EIDL are part of the Coronavirus Relief, Assistance and Economic Security Act (CARES), designed to provide financial assistance to millions of American businesses during the pandemic. PPP loans help businesses keep their employees busy during a pandemic. The proceeds from the loan must be used to cover wages, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and other limited property damage and operating costs as specified in the program.
The EIDL program is designed to provide economic assistance to small businesses experiencing temporary loss of income through revenues used to cover a wide range of working capital and ordinary operating expenses.
Criminals fraudulently solicit these loans or use targeted funds after they are paid off. This type of scam can include business owners who have increased their payroll costs in order to obtain larger loans, scammers who create fake companies and names, and organized criminal networks that apply for identical loan applications under different company names. The ill-gotten money is then used for personal gain.
The PPP / EIDL Anti-Fraud Working Group, formed in collaboration with the FBI, IRS-CI and SBA-OIG, will pool resources to combat this growing threat at record speed and gain critical data and evidence to identify fraud in PPP framework.
“Unfortunately, when a crisis is triggered by a natural disaster or a global pandemic like COVID-19, there are people in our society who will take advantage of the situation to trick those in need of government economic aid packages as a means to fill their own pockets. We have seen several patterns associated with the COVID-19 crisis. Beware of individuals looking for personally identifiable or financial information or financial information to facilitate application or otherwise gain access to government funds. The FBI and our partners are committed to protecting the American people and the integrity of government aid programs. We will relentlessly pursue those who use government aid funds and use them for personal gain at the expense of taxpayers. Our investigation partnership will result in jail time for these criminals, ”said FBI Special Agent Springfield in charge of Sean M. Cox.
“Our mission is to combat the exploitation of programs designed to help those in need. The IRS-CI has successfully investigated PPP and EIDL fraud, identifying millions of stolen funds, ”said Amanda Prestegard, acting special agent in charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Field Office in St. Louis. “The IRS-CI will continue to work with the FBI and SBA-OIG to actively prosecute those who commit fraud under the CARES Act.”
Experience shows that public-private partnerships are one of the FBI’s best allies in ensuring maximum awareness and transparency of suspicious behavior, including the misuse and abuse of taxpayer funds. If you suspect PPP / EIDL fraud, contact the Springfield FBI at 217-522-9675 or send advice at tips.fbi.gov or IRS.gov or SBA-OIG Anti-Fraud Hotline…