(Alex Tien, Headline USA) A troubling report alleged that the multi-trillion-dollar COVID relief and economic stimulus packages of 2020 and 2021 may have proven “the biggest fraud in the history of our country,” according to NBC News.
With more than $5 trillion doled out by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was bound to be some money going to the wrong places.
Howevern NBC News said unthinkably high amounts—to the tune of “hundreds of billions” of dollars in taxpayer money—is likely to have been fraudulently claimed and distributed.
“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.”
In an exclusive interview with NBC News anchor Lester Holt, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said COVID relief programs were structured in ways that made them “ripe for plunder.”
He said both individual payments and those made through the Paycheck Protection Program were 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.”
Haywood Talcove, CEO at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, explained how embarrassingly simple it was for people to receive undeserved money: Fraudsters went on state websites and took the names of existing businesses, or registered fake new businesses.
“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 the IRS has handed out as much as $64 million in stimulus funds to dead people after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law.
The error was due to a computer programming issue that the IRS was aware of but did not resolve.
These reports come after President Joe Biden this week proposed another $5.8 trillion dollar budget, which some conservatives are seeking to push back against.