Fraudulent Applicants for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and a Surge in Criminal Referrals from Small Business Administration
(27 Jan 2021) The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) made more criminal referrals to federal prosecutors at the Department of Justice in FY 2020—a total of 91—than any year in the past two decades. Referrals began increasing in April 2020 after efforts began to identify those who submitted fraudulent bank loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the CARES Act. SBA referrals also remained higher than usual during the first three months of FY 2021 (October - December 2020). In fact, between April 2020 and the end of December 2020, a total of 102 new referrals were made.

Just what proportion of recent referrals reflect alleged fraud under the CARES Act is uncertain since specific details of these referrals will only become public once prosecutions actually are filed. But the timing of this upsurge in referrals as well as details on cases already being filed suggest that alleged fraud in applications for COVID relief was a major driving force. These early results are based on case-by-case government records on SBA referrals obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University after successful litigation that required their release.

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