ORLANDO, Fla. – Gena Bukur was stunned when she received notices from the U.S. Small Business Association in October, and again in November, reminding her about payments for a $48,000 emergency loan due in August 2021.
The deferred payments are part of the protocol for the SBA’s disaster relief loans but Bukur never applied for the loan and had not run a business in 30 years.
“When they confirmed my social security number had been used I got a little nervous,” Bukur said. “I have two bank accounts and neither account is showing that I have extra money.”
Bukur’s said she ran a landscape company in the Sanford area in the 1980′s but that was a one-woman operation.
A check of state records found she is listed as an agent of an active corporation but she said that was set-up to divide property and orange groves between 32 relatives after her uncle died.
”We are actually in the process of dissolving the corporation as all the property has been sold and there is nothing to earn (from the land,” she wrote in an email.
That corporation may have been used by the impostor but at this point investigators with the U.S. Secret Service office in Orlando are still tracing the money trail and have no firm evidence what business was used to obtain the fraudulent loan.
Special Agent in Charge Caroline O’Brien-Buster said she was confident agents will be able to trace the money and the person behind the SBA loan application.
“We’ll find out where the money went‚” she said. “When these fraudsters apply for these loans they’re causing legitimate companies to have to fold.”
News 6 shared Bukur’s case with the secret service including a credit report that confirms the SBA checked her credit status before issuing the loan.
O’Brien-Buster said the case is just one of hundreds of loan fraud reports agents have been investigating since March.
Nationally agents have recovered in excess of $340 million in funds obtained through illegal loan applications.
But with each victory at least one new fraud case is reported every day.
Agents said at least 60% of fraud victims in Central Florida toss the loan notices in the trash because they never applied for the loans in the first place.
“Don’t blow them off, “O’Brien-Buster urged. “If you get something with your name and address on it saying you owe money to the SBA you need to take it seriously!”
O’Brien-Buster said Bukur would not be held accountable for the loan.
She said anyone who suspects they are victims of identity theft should check their credit, freeze all accounts and report the fraud to the SBA and the US Secret Service.
If you think your identity has been used to apply for an SBA loan you can contact the secret service at this email: ORL.CFTF@usss.dhs.gov .
You may report fraud, waste, mismanagement, or misconduct involving SBA programs or employees either online or by calling the OIG Hotline toll-free at (800) 767-0385.
If you have a question regarding an SBA loan or any SBA program, contact your local SBA District Office or the SBA Answer Desk at 1-800-U-ASK-SBA (1-800-827-5722) or email@example.com(link sends e-mail).
For any other unemployment issues send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org