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DOJ charges 57 people with alleged theft of PPP aid

On Thursday, the Department of Justice charged 57 people withe the alleged theft of over $175 million dollars from the coronavirus relief PPP program. This comes as the next round of stimulus is still being debated by the Senate, with democrats blocking Mitch McConnell’s ‘skinny’ stimulus bill proposal. Yahoo Finance’s Jess Smith joins The Final Round to discuss the latest out of Washington, D.C.

Video Transcript

MYLES UDLAND: Going back to the beginning of the kind of programs Congress rolled out in response to the pandemic, the DOJ now has questions about how some of the PPP loans that were disbursed were used. Tell us about that.

JESSICA SMITH: Yeah, the Department of Justice had a press conference today and announced that since May, it has charged 57 people with PPP-related fraud. And these people are accused of trying to steal $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, this program that was designed to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. And while $175 million sounds like a lot of money-- it is a lot of money-- we should note that the Small Business Administration did make about $525 billion in loans. Officials say that these people managed to steal about $70 million, and then the government was able to get about $30 million of that back.

The DOJ does say more charges are likely coming. A team has been dedicated to looking at PPP-related fraud. They said they have opened several hundred cases, and they've found about 500 people they think may have been involved, may be involved in PPP-related fraud. People are allegedly faking documents, using stolen personal information, and lying about businesses in order to get this money.

They say there's really two categories of this fraud. There are coordinated criminal rings of people trying to access this money. They said one ring in particular went after $24 million from this program. Another is just individuals who are lying about businesses to try and get money they can spend on themselves. Let's watch.

- These defendants used lies to obtain millions of dollars in PPP funds and then spent those funds not on their workers, but on things like luxury cars, homes, renovations, diamond jewelry, even adult entertainment and trips to Las Vegas.

JESSICA SMITH: The work is not over. The DOJ says there is likely a significant amount of fraud ongoing. You may remember, House Democrats on an oversight panel just a couple of weeks ago found that there were billions of dollars worth of questionable PPP loans made, and they said that the program is at high risk of fraud. So this is something we'll definitely be keeping an eye on over the coming months, maybe the coming years.