DENVER – Today, the U.S. Secret Service returned approximately $286 million in fraudulently obtained Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to the Small Business Administration (SBA). These recovered funds were generated by fraudulently submitted EIDL loan applications using fabricated or stolen employment and personal information.
“The Secret Service is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of the nation’s financial systems against fraud and holding those responsible to account for their criminal activity,” said Assistant Director David Smith. “By aiding in the return of nearly $2.3 billion in stolen funds over the last 30 months, our workforce has demonstrated a clear and firm commitment to the vitality of American businesses across the country.”
“Through intentional collaborations like this, OIG will continue to ensure that taxpayer dollars obtained through fraudulent means will be returned to taxpayers and fraudsters involved face justice,” said SBA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware. “OIG is focused on rooting out bad actors in these vital SBA programs. I want to thank the U.S. Secret Service and our many partners in law enforcement for their tireless dedication and focused commitment to seeing justice served.”
Initiated by the Secret Service Orlando, Florida, Field Office, the investigation revealed that the conspirators utilized third-party payment system Green Dot Bank (GDB), issuer of Green Dot debit cards, to conceal and move their criminal proceeds. Working with GDB, the Secret Service was able to identify over 15,000 accounts used in the conspiracy and seize the $286 million contained in these fraudulent accounts.
After having identified the suspected fraudulent accounts with GDB, the Secret Service approached the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. The District of Colorado has venue for all Economic Injury Disaster Loans issued by the Small Business Administration based on its Finance Center being located in Colorado. The U.S. Attorney’s Office then obtained the seizure warrant with the District Court that led to the seizure of over 15,000 accounts with $286 million from Green Dot Bank.
“Working closely with our Central and North Florida Cyber Fraud Task Forces, this investigation enabled the recovery of a significant amount of critical federal relief,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Roy Dotson, the lead investigator for the Secret Service.
“We applaud the hard work and dedication of the Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the District of Colorado and Middle District of Florida,” said Department of Justice Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Kevin Chambers. “This is an important step in returning stolen funds to the American people. This forfeiture effort and those to come are a direct and necessary response to the unprecedented size and scope of pandemic relief fraud. The Department of Justice is grateful for our partnership with the Secret Service and all of our law enforcement partners working to recover stolen pandemic relief funds”.
Since 2020, the Secret Service has seized over $1.4 billion in fraudulently obtained funds and assisted in returning approximately $2.3 billion to state unemployment insurance programs. The Secret Service has additionally initiated more than 3,850 pandemic related fraud investigations and investigative inquiries.