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New York's U.S. Attorney expects to be busy with COVID-19 loan fraud for years

Jun 29, 2021 1:01 pm

Emilie Munson reports in the Times Union that acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York Antoinette Bacon says they'll be investigating coronavirus loan fraud for years. She says there has been corruption in the Paycheck Protection Program and other coronavirus business loans issued by the Small Business Administration. "I would be surprised if we were not bringing these cases five, six, seven years from now," Bacon said. There were billions of dollars of loans issued through the CARES Act, as well as the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past year, the Department of Justice says it has prosecuted more than 100 defendants in at least 70 criminal cases for PPP and EIDL fraud. So far the U.S. attorney's office in Albany has filed two cases with charges against four individuals for allegedly fraudulently obtaining loans from the programs. "Serial fraudsters look for opportunities like well-funded government programs, especially in times of crisis and disaster when people are desperate," Bacon said. "The CARES Act for most people meant caring for your neighbor ... but for others the CARES Act was caring for themselves. It was selfishness. It was an opportunity to live a lavish lifestyle to get rich quick. So we wanted to jump on that as quickly as possible." Bacon said she is looking for tips about suspected loan fraud from calls to the FBI's hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or folks submitting tips online to FBI.gov. "We hear a lot, people will say 'Well, everyone knew that so-and-so was committing fraud. Everyone knew that this was happening. Why isn't law enforcement doing something?'" Bacon said. "Not everyone knows. We know because good honest citizens provide tips and leads." Read more about this story in the Times Union.