ORLANDO, Fla. – When Dan Gascoyne of ALL 4 LAWNS discovered his employer identification number had been used by 19 other businesses to apply for emergency grants with the Small Business Administration, he was convinced he had been hacked.
“I don’t know how anybody would come in contact with that number,” Gascoyne told News 6. “I have had that for 12 years.”
The IRS assigns the nine digit numbers to companies for tax purposes.
The fact that 20 companies used the same number to apply for loans convinced Gascoyne he may have been the victim of identity theft.
When he asked the SBA for an explanation as to why 20 companies would have his tax number, staffers could offer no simple explanation.
“They really didn’t understand what was going on,” Gascoyne said.
The SBA told the Longwood businessman that a company in Georgia had secured the $10,000 emergency grant in July.
The company was the first of the 20 companies to submit applications. While the number was the same in each case, the names and owners filed were completely different.
News 6 brought the case to the Orlando Secret Service.
Special agent in charge Caroline O’Brien-Buster handled the case personally.
The Secret Service has been tracking SBA fraud across the United States. The cases are expected to be linked to theft in the billions.
After careful review, Obrien-Buster determined the tax number was used by the same bank and each company inadvertently used that bank number instead of the EIN assigned to them.
“His business wasn’t associated with that number,” O’brien-Buster said. “It (the SBA application) hit on a number that had already been paid out, that’s why his application was denied.”
O’Brien-Buster said her agents would advise the other 19 companies of the confusion.
It is believed the companies operating in Illinois, Georgia and Florida should be eligible for the emergency grants.
Gascoyne said the bank number was always on his tax documents so he assumed that was the number he should use.
“I couldn’t believe a Secret Service agent would be here to help me," Gascoyne said. "It worked out and I have you to thank.”
The Secret Service has set up an email for small business owners that suspect their accounts may have been compromised. The new email is: ORL.CFTF@usss.dhs.gov
If you have an unemployment issue you can contact News 6 at firstname.lastname@example.org.