The Fleecing of America: Looting the Paycheck Protection Program
(NBC News/WHEC) — Criminals might get away with a COVID crime spree.
The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help struggling businesses during the pandemic.
It’s credited for saving millions of jobs, but in some cases, investigators say people lied to get loans, using the money for private flights and fancy cars, while at the same time, not every business got the money it was promised.
RELATED: Brothers from WNY accused of Paycheck Protection Program fraud
NBC News’s Ken Dilanian spoke with Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez in Miami who prosecuted one fraudster who falsely claimed he ran a farm.
Dilanian: "To figure that out, what did investigators have to do?"
Gonzalez: "Well, once you looked at the paperwork and once you saw what it was, all it took was a drive to the farm to see there was no farm."
Dilanian: "Just a single-family home in the middle of Miami."
Dilanian: "Weren’t there due diligence checks made?"
Gonzalez: "Well, there’s supposed to be due diligence checks made, and obviously, not all of them were done."
Law enforcement officials say most people who stole COVID relief money will likely get away with it, but to find more cases, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee is employing data scientists who use artificial intelligence to plow through 150 million records searching for fraud patterns.