FBI Springfield Organizes Paycheck Protection Program/Economic Injury Disaster Loan Fraud Working Group
The Fairview Heights Resident Agency, part of the FBI Springfield Field Office, has organized a working group consisting of federal partners the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) and the Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) to combat Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) fraud.
The PPP and EIDL are part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to provide financial assistance to millions of American businesses during the pandemic. PPP loans help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic. Loan proceeds must be used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, utilities, and other limited property damage and operations costs as specified under the program.
The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses that experience a temporary loss of revenue with proceeds used to cover a wide array of working capital and normal operating expenses.
Criminals are fraudulently applying for these loans or targeting the funds once they have been disbursed. This type of fraud can involve business owners who have inflated their payroll expenses to obtain larger loans, fraudsters who create fake companies and identities, and organized criminal networks that submit identical loan applications under different company names. The ill-gotten money is then used for personal gain.
The PPP/EIDL Fraud Working Group, formed in collaboration with the FBI, IRS-CI, and SBA-OIG will combine resources to target this threat that is escalating at a record pace, and obtain critical data and evidence to identify PPP fraud.
“Unfortunately, when a crisis emerges as the result of a natural disaster or a global pandemic such as COVID-19, there are individuals within our society who will take advantage of the situation to defraud those in need of government economic relief packages as means to line their own pockets. We have seen several schemes related to the COVID-19 crisis. Be wary of anyone seeking personally identifiable information or financial information, in person or online, to facilitate application for or otherwise access government funds. The FBI and our partners are committed to protecting the American people and the integrity of government assistance programs. We will relentlessly pursue those who exploit government relief funds and use them for personal gain at the taxpayer’s expense. Our investigative partnerships will lead to prison terms for these criminals,” said FBI Springfield Special Agent in Charge Sean M. Cox.
“Our mission is to combat the exploitation of programs designed to help those in need. IRS-CI has successfully investigated PPP and EIDL fraud identifying millions in stolen funds,” said Amanda Prestegard, acting special agent in charge of IRS-Criminal Investigation’s St. Louis Field Office. “IRS-CI will continue to partner with the FBI and SBA-OIG to aggressively pursue those who commit CARES Act fraud.”
Experience demonstrates that cooperation from public-private partnerships is one of the FBI’s best allies in maximizing awareness and visibility of suspicious conduct, including the misuse and abuse of taxpayer funds. If you suspect PPP/EIDL fraud, contact FBI Springfield at 217-522-9675 or submit tips to tips.fbi.gov or IRS.gov or SBA-OIG Fraud Hotline.