ORLANDO, Fla. – Gina Bukar received a past-due notice from the government for a $48,000 Small Business Administration emergency loan she never applied for, not once but twice.
The Central Florida woman said the first notice arrived in the mail back in December 2020 and with the help of Make Ends Meet and News 6, her name was cleared from what was officially deemed a “fraudulent loan.”
But in April of this year, Bukar received a past-due notice for the same loan so she called Make Ends Meet and News 6 again and we cleared it again.
So, where is the money?
According to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, PRAC, Bukar is one of thousands of Americans in Florida and across the country whose social security numbers have been used in a ”multi-state fraud schemes” targeting millions of dollars in emergency benefits including unemployment and SBA loans.
[INSIDER EXTRA: Hear more advice from Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Department of Justice]
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Department of Justice and chair of PRAC, told News 6 the numbers are “enormous.”
“We’re doing cases now where we go to folks and say, ‘Are these your loans?’” Horowitz said. “‘No, but thank you for letting me know I’m a victim of identity theft.’”
The PRAC team found a connection of more than 69,000 “suspicious” social security numbers used to collect $5.4 billion in SBA emergency loans.
“We are doing everything we can to recoup every penny we can find,” Horowitz said. “But it takes time, effort and money and we’re going to be doing this for years.”
In the PRAC report, another fraud item uncovered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General was highlighted.
The DOL OIG found “that $3.5 billion in potentially fraudulent unemployment claims were distributed to more than 225,000 social security numbers used to apply for unemployment in multiple states. Further, the DOL OIG identified one case where a single social security number was used to apply for unemployment benefits in 40 different states, resulting in the disbursement of funds from 29 of those states, totaling $222,532.”
According to Horowitz, the PRAC investigation showed imposters played a system that essentially let its guard down.
“We had very limited red flag processes available, but we also found they weren’t even used,” Horowitz told News 6. “It’s a consequence of getting out the money faster than it should have gotten out.”
Pandemicoversight.gov allows you to search if your name is on a loan list.
If you think you are a victim of identity theft, you can report it on the website or we can help.
Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or text the words make ends meet along with your issue to 407-676-7428.
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