The watchdog said billions in corona virus relief could have been sent to fraudsters

A Small Business Administration A project aimed at keeping entrepreneurs afloat Corona virus The epidemic may have sent billions Dollars According to a new monitoring report, fraudsters and ineligible applicants.

A Report Released Wednesday, SBA Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ward said more than $ 78 billion in aid to businesses approved under the agency’s economic injury disaster credit plan could have gone to fraud or ineligible businesses.

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The report found that $ 58 billion was lent to businesses that used the same IP addresses, email addresses, bank accounts or the same physical addresses. About $ 13.4 billion went to different accounts from those listed in the original loan applications, and about $ 1.1 billion went to ineligible businesses.

The fraud stemmed from the agency’s urgency to provide assistance to businesses affected by the epidemic; To expedite the process, the SBA “reduced guards,” Ward wrote, “which significantly increased the risk of program fraud.”

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In a few days, the agency received unprecedented loan applications: on March 31, it received 680,000 applications, the highest number received in a single day. By April 10, the agency had processed more than 4.5 million applications. To expedite the process, SBA employees were given an average of 15 minutes per application to make their decision.

Under the plan, businesses can get up to $ 10,000 in forgivable loans. The company disbursed about $ 211 billion in debt during the virus-induced crisis.

But SBA executive Jovita Corranza rejected the report, noting in a letter that it “exaggerates the risk of fraud, waste and abuse” and that it “does not fully and accurately portray SBA’s unprecedentedly successful disaster relief delivery.”

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