The alleged fraudsters used a government program called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which allowed companies to stay alive through loans during the corona pandemic. Fifteen of the suspects were arrested earlier this week.
The investigation by local authorities found that certain suspects were in prison when they applied for government aid. They did that over the phone. “Some suspects paid their bail a few days after they received their fraudulently obtained loan,” said a Joliet police chief.
The loans involved between $19,000 and $20,000. Most of the suspects were already behind bars because of other types of fraud they had committed. Others had ended up in prison for theft. In total, an amount of more than half a million would be involved in the fraud cases in Illinois.
The government’s PPP program was found to be highly susceptible to fraud in the United States. In August, the US Secret Service announced that it had recovered $286 million in ill-gotten gains.
US: $45.6 billion in unemployment fraud during pandemic
Fraudsters stole about $45.6 billion in unemployment benefits during the pandemic, according to a US federal regulator, The Washington Post reports. Among other things, they used social security numbers of dead people to defraud the US government. Also, scammers filed unemployment claims in multiple states at once. Other criminals obtained benefits using the identities of prisoners who were not eligible for assistance.
About 190,000 investigation cases have been opened in connection with possible unemployment insurance fraud since the start of the pandemic, according to the Labor Department.