Secret Service cases and data from the Labor Department and the Small Business Administration estimate that nearly $100 billion at minimum has been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs set up to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, reports the Associated Press. Most of that figure comes from unemployment fraud. The Labor Department reported about $87 billion in unemployment benefits could have been paid improperly, with a significant portion attributable to fraud.
The Secret Service reports seizing more than $1.2 billion while investigating unemployment insurance and loan fraud and returning more than $2.3 billion of fraudulently obtained funds by working with financial partners and states to reverse transactions. 900 active criminal investigations into pandemic fraud currently remain active within the agency, with cases in every state, and 100 people have been arrested so far. Not included in the Secret Service’s estimate are fraud cases prosecuted by the Justice Department, which reported prosecuting over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and seizing over $75 million in cash proceeds derived from fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program funds, as well as numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased with the proceeds.