During the pandemic, the federal government hastily implemented a series of relief plans designed to help locked-down Americans. This included funding for small businesses, which many desperately needed.
However, we’re finding out now that the program was rife with fraud. Reports claim that many billions were lost in scams, and we may never know the full extent of these schemes.
Now, we learn that IRS employees were involved in this widespread fraud.
Businesses had several options for relief: COVID EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) funds, which were basically 30-year loans, and EIDL Advance funds, which were like federal grants but didn’t need to be paid back.
Then there were the PPP funds, which were short-term loans that were supposed to help businesses keep their employees during lockdowns.
That’s where a lot of the fraud is coming from, according to various reports. And 5 IRS employees allegedly received almost $400,000 after fraudulently applying for $1.1 million in government relief.
Via The Daily Caller:
The majority of the fraudulently obtained funds were spent on luxury clothing, jewelry and other personal services, but were also used by one employee to purchase a Mercedes-Benz, while another took vacations to Las Vegas, the DOJ alleged in a press release.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after the Department of Labor announced that 1,000 individuals had been charged in connection with the theft of more than $45 billion in fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits extended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Clothing, jewelry, a Mercedes, and a trip to Vegas. And many angry taxpayers are now wondering how many other instances of fraud there are in Washington.
Three of the employees plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, while Courtney Quinshe Westmoreland was charged with three counts of wire fraud, and Brian Saulsberry was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one two counts of money laundering.
Westmoreland is accused of applying for $32,500 in EIDL and PPP and getting $11,500, then spending that on messages, manicures, and clothing.
Saulsberry allegedly applied for over $500K in EIDL funds and got $171,400. And he spent that on the Mercedes and an investment fund.
Each wire fraud charge comes with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while the money laundering charge holds a maximum of 10 years. But that won’t bring the money back to the government’s coffers.
Said Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Kevin Chambers:
This matter demonstrates the brazenness with which bad actors have taken advantage of federal programs meant to help those who suffered most from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Justice Department will continue to work hard to root out PPP and EIDL Program fraud, including that committed by government employees.
Many critics say we’re now paying the price for the wild money handouts during the pandemic, as inflation remains a serious problem and the markets just keep falling.
And it certainly doesn’t help when fraud becomes such a huge part of the problem, as it essentially tells Americans that we wasted billions on scammers.
- 5 IRS agents have been accused of pandemic relief funds fraud.
- They allegedly stole nearly $400K in EIDL and PPP funds and went on personal shopping sprees.
- They’re being charged with wire fraud; each count holds a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
Source: The Daily Caller