(FreedomBeacon.com)- Last week, the US Secret Service told the Associated Press that an estimated $100 billion in pandemic relief funds have been stolen. But the White House is downplaying the news, arguing that the estimate is based, not on new information, but old reports.
Based on Secret Service cases and data from the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration the bulk of the stolen funds is mostly from unemployment fraud. The Labor Department reported about $87 billion in unemployment benefits were improperly paid in 2020 and a significant portion of that is attributed to fraud.
During its investigation into unemployment insurance and loan fraud, the Secret Service has seized more than $1.2 billion and has returned over $2.3 billion of fraudulently-obtained funds. There are currently over 900 active criminal investigations into pandemic fraud being conducted by Secret Service. There are cases in all fifty states and thus far, one hundred people have been arrested.
During the White House press briefing on Wednesday, a reporter brought up the report from the Secret Service and asked press secretary Jen Psaki if the administration has ramped up on efforts to crack down on the fraud.
Psaki noted that the Secret Service is expected to clarify their report to explain that there is no new research, data, or analysis of fraud. Instead, the information released was based on two older Inspector General reports on the “well-known challenges” surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program and unemployment insurance payments from 2020.
On Wednesday, Justine Whelan, the spokeswoman for the agency said the Secret Service won’t be amending the statement on its website. However, Whelan did concede that Psaki’s remarks were correct. The information the agency provided was not a new report but was based on previous reports from the Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration.
Two weeks ago, the Department of Justice said its fraud section has prosecuted over 150 defendants in more than 95 criminal cases and has seized over $75 million in cash fraudulently obtained through the Paycheck Protection Program. It has also seized numerous real estate properties and luxury items purchased using fraudulently obtained funds.
The Paycheck Protection Program, created as part of the March 2020 CARES Act, offered low-interest, forgivable loans to small businesses struggling to make payroll or pay their expenses during government shutdowns in response to the COVID pandemic.