The U.S. Secret Service named a pandemic fraud recovery coordinator Tuesday as it frantically moves to stem stolen benefits draining upwards of $100 billion from government relief provisions.
Roy Dotson, formerly assistant special agent in charge of the Jacksonville, Fla., field office will assume the role that will directly target organized criminal gang networks, UPI reports.
“The Secret Service currently has more than 900 active criminal investigations into fraud specific to pandemic-related relief funds,” Dotson said in a news release. “Every state has been hit, some harder than others.”
The Secret Service is using its Cyber Fraud Task Forces to partner with federal, state, local and tribal governments, law enforcement and others to deal with pandemic funds fraud.
The scheme was originally set up to help businesses and people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
Dotson told CNN pandemic fraud is “enormous.”
The $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill proposed by President Joe Biden and approved by Democrats in Congress “will erase the majority of San Francisco’s projected $650 million budget deficit over the next two years,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. https://t.co/TQ4pzAOFWd
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 11, 2021
The Secret Service has already seized over $1.2 billion in ill-gotten coronavirus relief money as the year draws to a close.
Dotson said the goal with this accelerated anti-pandemic fraud effort in 2022 is to maximize the investigative impact and seize as much stolen pandemic money as possible from criminal networks.
While roughly three percent of the $3.4 trillion dispersed, the amount stolen from pandemic benefits programs shows “the sheer size of the pot is enticing to the criminals,” Dotson added.
Most of that figure comes from unemployment fraud. The Labor Department reported about $87 billion in unemployment benefits could have been paid improperly, with a significant portion attributable to fraud.
Restaurants owned by white men will be last in line for federal relief under President Joe Biden's "Restaurants Revitalization Fund." https://t.co/kdMeTOnC0r
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) May 5, 2021
The Secret Service said it has seized more than $1.2 billion while investigating unemployment insurance and loan fraud and has returned more than $2.3 billion of fraudulently obtained funds by working with financial partners and states to reverse transactions.
The Secret Service says it has more than 900 active criminal investigations into pandemic fraud, with cases in every state, and 100 people have been arrested so far.
UPI, AP contributed to this report