The Small Business Administration (SBA) is running a drive-thru for fraudsters, serving up tax dollars from COVID-19 assistance programs to career crooks, violent criminals, and even felons still behind bars to grab-and-go. The agency cut billions of dollars of checks to almost anyone who asked, in any amount requested, without even doing simple background checks or verifying the accuracy of applications. As a result, the programs provided the cash for violent street gangs to obtain firearms and conduct other illicit, illegal activity, according to federal investigators.
SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—intended to help small businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic—helped finance the criminal enterprise of the violent Crip street gang, which committed over a dozen shootings and three murders in recent years.
More than $3 million from SBA was given to a convicted fraudster claiming to own three bogus businesses paid for guns, bling, private jets, and luxury vehicles.
A felon used the $400,000 he received to pay for a car, boat, vacation, and tickets to sporting events.
A man claiming to operate a food truck while he was behind bars managed to collect nearly $50,000.
A drug trafficker on probation collected more than $50,000 from two separate SBA programs.
And a gang member with a long, violent criminal history was given more than $40,000 for which he did not qualify.
Fast fraud, made to order!
In total, SBA may have paid out more than $200 billion in suspected fraudulent pandemic recovery grants and loans to 4.5 million scammers since 2020, according to the SBA Office of Inspector General (OIG).
Some swindlers uploaded pictures of Barbie dolls as photo identification on the SBA loan applications … and still got money!
Even applications with missing and illogical information were approved. For example, emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) grants were given to 15 sole proprietors—who typically employ only themselves—claiming to have a staff of a million people!
Because SBA ran the programs on a “first come, first serve” basis, the money ran out quickly and many qualifying businesses were turned away.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund, for example, dished out dollars to thousands of fraudsters, including $8 million to one alleged fraudster, while leaving nearly 2,000 struggling restaurants in Iowa empty-handed.
A senior SBA official asked if she knew where the dollars that disappeared from the program may have gone simply replied, “I do not.”
The SBA is downplaying the severity of this scandal, insisting it gave only $36 billion to fraudsters. (Which is not something they should be proud of!). In fact, the agency has decided not to collect the money still owed on pandemic loans under $100,000.
The Biden administration has also tied the hands of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery from going after those who wrongfully took this money, claiming that that office does not have authority over SBA programs.
While hiring an army of IRS agents to audit innocent Americans, the president is looking in the other direction when it comes to recollecting the billions of dollars fraudsters were allowed to rip off of hardworking taxpayers.
Because the agency ran a carry-out with taxpayer dollars on the menu for fraudsters, I gave my July 2023 Squeal Award to the SBA.
I also put forward the Strengthening Taxpayers Recoveries Act, requiring the SBA to collect all of the COVID cash owed to taxpayers and extending and expanding the jurisdiction of the Special Inspector General to find more fraud.
Folks, this job isn’t finished until every criminal is caught and brought to justice, the stolen money is refunded to taxpayers, and the SBA gets its act together so this never happens ever again. Instead of asking, “Would you like fries with that,” Biden’s SBA should be focused on recovering ALL our wasted tax dollars. I will keep fighting to bring accountability to Washington and make SBA squeal!