Sens. Rand Paul and Joni Ernst are launching a large-scale investigation into over $5.4 billion on pandemic loan fraud in the wake of the reports the Biden administration is winding down the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
Paul, R-Ky., and Ernst, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration demanding an assessment into the “extent” of fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The inquiry comes after the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee sounded the alarm following a review that shows 5.4 billion in taxpayer funds were dispensed to “fraudsters.
“On January 30, 2023, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) released a fraud alert detailing widespread fraud of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL),” Rand and Ernst wrote in the letter first obtained by Fox News Digital.
“Specifically, PRAC reviewed over 33 million applications and discovered 221,427 applications used fraudulent social security numbers.,” they wrote.
“Of those, 69,323 applications were issued EIDL and PPP loans, totaling over $5.4 billion in funds dispensed to fraudsters,” they added.
Ernst and Paul also demanded a review of the “nearly 70,000 PPP loans” and a review of the actions taken by the Small Business Administration, including its “automated and manual checks.”
The investigation comes on the heels of the Biden administration announcing ti will end the two emergencies related to the COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, 2023
The Office of Management and Budget wrote in a statement that Biden would extend both emergencies to May 11, at which point they will expire.
The senator’s investigation comes a week after the Government Accountability Office announced that as much as $45 billion were lost to fraudulent claims.
As Fox News reported:
The government spent $878 billion on unemployment insurance measures between April 2020 and September 2022 to cope with staggering job losses during the pandemic.
The estimates of how much money went toward fraudulent claims are based on an analysis of the unemployment insurance system roughly in the first two years of the pandemic.
The report said $4.3 billion has been confirmed by state workforce agencies as fraudulent unemployment insurance payments, but said that does not reflect ongoing investigations into all fraudulent payments that total $45 billion.