Last June, eight guys from Brooklyn came to an agreement, according to the US Department of Justice, and devised a scheme to steal the identities of strangers and take what was not theirs.
Just months before that – in the early days of the fear of COVID-19 – Congress passed a $ 2.2 trillion bill called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The money was supposed to go to the millions of isolated Americans whose paychecks were cut off during the pandemic.
The Brooklyn mooks had other plans.
This gang of eight people, aged 18 to 25, submitted some $ 2 million in bogus unemployment claims for assistance under the CARES Act. And they got away with it for nearly a year, officials said. Several of these criminals have stupidly posted pictures of themselves showing piles of money online. Others were caught on ATM cameras withdrawing their free money. Broken!
The more Uncle Sam gives, the more criminals get. And it wasn’t just the Brooklyn gang. In addition to additional money for larger unemployment checks, Congress has allocated nearly $ 350 billion in Small Business Administration loans to be distributed by vendors to some 3,800 financial institutions.
Now we find out that only one of these lenders, an online company called Kabbage, has agreed to more than $ 7 million going to bogus companies, mostly non-existent farms. Speed of disbursement was the watchword, and claims verification was apparently lax. Many entities seeking loans from Kabbage seemed shady. Farms and cattle ranches on a New Jersey sandbar? An orange grove in Minnesota? A potato field in Palm Beach, Florida? All were cans.
The SBA Inspector General now estimates that nearly 100,000 loans have been made to businesses that either weren’t eligible or got more money than they should have. At the end of March 2021, the DOJ had brought charges of criminal fraud against 474 people who were seeking to collect collective $ 570 million.
It’s good that the federal government caught up with these cheaters, but there had to be a better way to run this program from the start, right? Simply relying on chases after the fact is like trying to chase the horse after it has rushed through the open barn door.
An acquaintance told me that he expected a small back-up payment on a debit card but never arrived. His wife called to find him, but the automated system forced her to type the number on the card – which they have never received. A typical government Catch-22. They finally gave up and are still wondering who got their $ 318 debit card.
The point is, there has been so much money taken out of the US Treasury over the past year that the task of keeping track of it all seems futile. Billions of dollars in aid have already been approved by Congress; billions more are under consideration.
It’s not monopoly money, folks. And according to the Wall Street Journal, billions of dollars already pumped into the US economy are still there. Between the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, more than $ 32 billion earmarked for hospitals ravaged by the pandemic remains unused. They can’t spend their money fast enough to meet the June 30 deadline, so hospitals are asking for an extension.
The bailout also allocated a $ 350 billion windfall to states to help spur a post-pandemic recovery. Some states will be swimming in surplus dough, but who in Washington will check to see if the long rules for spending that money are actually being followed? Hopefully the supervision is better than what happened with the Kabbage loans.
It’s time to remember the reported words of famous criminal Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks, he reportedly replied, “Because that’s where the money is!” “
Whether Sutton actually said those words is disputed, but it is a certainty: the criminal element will pour in wherever there is an abundance of money and lax oversight. Today, money is printed and is coming out of the US Treasury at a fierce rate. Calculating criminals plan.
When the US government is not diligent, taxpayers lose. It is quite clear that conscientious surveillance is not practiced. I say, no more money bills until that changes.