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‘Corruption so Rampant’: Billions Lost in ‘Mammoth’ COVID Fraud

IRS workers charged with stealing to buy luxury goods, fancy cars, travel.

Often the Joe Biden administration has claimed that COVID-19 attacked families and workers through no fault of their own, and what was needed was its progressive spending agenda, specifically helping "people of color, immigrants, and low-wage workers."

In reality, however, Biden's spending, "billions and counting – has gone to unrelated causes and the administration’s COVID relief program continues to fleece American taxpayers," according to a report from government watchdog Judicial Watch.

The organization reported that, "Fraud and corruption are so rampant in the U.S. government’s mammoth pandemic relief program that the Justice Department created a special COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force (CFETF) to crack down on scams and recover some of the stolen funds."

A recent update from that organization should leave taxpayers "furious," the watchdog said, as "over $2 billion have been lost to fraud and more than $1.4 billion have been seized or forfeited."

So far some 3,500 defendants have been charged and civil settlements involving 400 disputes have resulted in judgments of more than $100 million, the report said.

Egregiously, the report notes, charged was a "gang member who as a prison inmate operated a scheme that collected $25 million in pandemic unemployment benefits and another jailed convict who used stolen identities to claim more than $1 million in unemployment payments."

That, however, is but a drop in the bucket, the report said, "considering that the American Rescue Plan of 2021, the nearly $2 trillion measure passed by Democrats to provide immediate and direct relief to families and workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis through no fault of their own, has doled out so much more."

Judicial Watch pointed out that by now, the fraud crisis is so severe, "the government needs to spend more resources to clean it up, further sticking it to the public."

It was Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco who said prosecutors are overwhelmed by the work load.

"The statute of limitations must be extended and the necessary funding and data analytic tools secured for our prosecutors to recover hundreds of millions of dollars more in fraud proceeds, bring remaining offenders to justice, and disrupt criminal networks that continue to victimize our citizens," Monaco said.

Judicial Watch pointed out that the government's problem with COVID payments exists "because the government has made it too easy to collect benefits, making the massive cash giveaway a great target for criminals."

The report noted that fraud is estimated in the billions of dollars.

Of the 3,500 defendants charged, most of the cases involve unemployment benefits fraud, Paycheck Protection Program fraud (PPP), and Economic Injury

"In Minnesota dozens of individuals have been charged for operating a $250 million fraud scheme that exploited a federally funded child nutrition program during the COVID-19 pandemic," Judicial Watch reported. "A Florida defendant was sentenced to eight years in prison for obtaining more than $7.2 million in PPP loan funds, which he used to purchase luxury cars and a 12-acre estate."

And it's not just the public at fault, the report said.

"Back in the fall of 2022 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees got charged with stealing over a million dollars from pandemic relief programs to buy luxury goods, fancy cars, and travel. Five employees from the feared tax agency in Tennessee and Mississippi easily withdrew the money by filing false loan applications with two of the federal stimulus programs, PPP and EIDL."

Authorities said they spent the money on designer clothes, an imported car, jewelry, trips to Las Vegas and more. Then, running out of things to buy, they put the rest in their "personal investment accounts."

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