Fifty-seven people have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) as of May for attempting to misappropriate over $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which was created to assist people amid the COVID-19 health crisis, Reuters reported.
Groups of criminals working together have aimed to steal by deception from the initiative. Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Rabbitt said per Reuters that the participation of the groups wasn’t unexpected but is “particularly troubling to us here at the department.”
Rabbitt said at a news conference, according to Reuters, “We will be focusing on these types of cases, going forward.”
In August, news surfaced that the DOJ charged 14 individuals in two different probes into their alleged involvement in efforts to defraud the PPP of in excess of $28 million in forgivable Small Business Administration-guaranteed loans.
Nine individuals were charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida for looking for over $24 million in "fraudulent" SBA PPP loans.
“The defendants allegedly participated in an extensive nationwide scheme to file at least 90 fraudulent applications for millions of dollars in PPP loans in exchange for illegal kickbacks of portions of the loan proceeds,” Rabbitt said at the time.
And, in another instance, five people were charged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia with fraudulently receiving over $4 million in PPP loans. Investors alleged that they used some of the funds to buy high-end autos.
And, in May, two individuals in Rhode Island were charged with fraudulently asking for PPP loans, according to a DOJ statement at the time. A Rhode Island man and a Massachusetts man were taken into custody and charged with conspiring to get forgivable SBA-backed PPP loans.
The two reportedly indicated that they had dozens of people on the payroll at four businesses, but they were said to not have any employees in reality.