The U.S. sent $5.4 billion in COVID aid to small businesses using suspect Social Security numbers, according to a watchdog alert Monday.
The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) shared the alert with The Washington Post that found companies used Social Security numbers that may have been fraudulent. PRAC found 221,000 fake or ineligible Social Security numbers out of 33 million applications.
PRAC is the top government watchdog vetting pandemic stimulus spending.
The Small Business Administration responded in an atypically fast manner to the pandemic with $1 trillion in loans and grants to keep U.S. businesses afloat, with much of the money in the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
This created conditions ripe for fraud and abuse, according to a year-long investigation by The Washington Post, dubbed the COVID Money Trail.
To date, the full extent of waste and hoaxes remains unknown, even as regulators continue to clamp down on COVID fraud.
House Republicans are holding their first hearing Wednesday to examine $5 trillion in total federal stimulus aid since the spring of 2020 to counter COVID’s injurious impact on the U.S. economy—the worst economic crisis the nation faced since the Great Depression.
The House Oversight Committee chaired by James Comer, R-Kentucky, will hold the hearing at which PRAC Director Michael Horowitz will testify.
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