900 open criminal investigations, 100 arrested so far

900 open criminal investigations, 100 arrested so far
Written by Publishing Team

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WAVE) – Money is one of the main things businesses and individuals need to survive during the pandemic.

Muhammed “Moe” Sloan is CEO and founder of EZ-Chow, a digital ordering company that takes away third parties for restaurants and hospitality establishments.

The PPP loan he took legally helped keep his business afloat during the pandemic.

“People benefited from businesses, especially small businesses, by taking money that didn’t apply to them or didn’t apply to them,” Sloan said.

EZ-Chow serves more than 200 companies across the county and has about seven employees. He was able to get the PPP loan during the two rounds.

“Any additional funding we can get helps tremendously,” Sloan said. “Was that enough? Not real.”

Companies have gotten away with billions in financing, however, some of these companies aren’t real.

Like 49-year-old Randall Blankenship A fake pay chart with his company in Woodford County who stole $1,323,829. The US Department of Justice said he faces 20 years in prison.

Karinda Vaughn of Laurel County He also faces 22 years in prison for COVID fraud.

Dave Christopher is the founder of Russell Tech Business Incubator and helps minority companies navigate financial hurdles.

“I’m not surprised…it’s time to cheat,” Christopher said. “The system is set up for those who can figure out how to manipulate it. The business struggles and you hear a jingle coming, then jingling goes by your side.”

Christopher said minority companies were most disadvantaged in PPP loans because they did not have a ready structure.

Meanwhile this week the Secret Service announced Nearly $100 billion in COVID relief money has been stolen and up to $400 billion stolen from unemployment programs.

The US Department of Labor has reported that about $87 billion in unemployment benefits could have been incorrectly paid, most of which are again linked to fraud.

“Waste and fraud hurt everyone eventually,” Sloan said.

The Southeast Small Business Association serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It approved a total of more than 53,000 public-private partnership loans valued at more than $4 billion.

Nationwide, more than 400,000 loans valued at more than $35 billion were approved in the January 2021 round. Overall, the average loan size is $87,000.

Together, more than 5.5 million PPP loans have been approved, totaling more than $557.8 billion.

“It’s made for those with the power to get more power,” Christopher said.

Christopher said there should have been different entry levels to focus on helping small businesses. At the end of the day, he said, people will always benefit from the thing that is meant to do good.

The Secret Service said there are currently 900 active criminal investigations into epidemic fraud. 100 people have been arrested so far.

Through the financial institutions, the Secret Service said it was able to reverse some of the payments. The Secret Service’s epidemiology coordinator said all of the released estimates are conservative and they are still working to hold people who lied and stole money to account.

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