WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are stepping up efforts to redeem billions in fraudulent small business loans.
The Small Business Administration says tens of thousands of fraudulent loans were taken out over the course of the pandemic. Kansas Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids said there were several victims in her district alone.
“We saw a number of folks who had their identities stolen. We saw fraudulent actors take out loans that were for businesses that didn’t exist,” said Davids.
She says two bills set to pass the house as early as this week would give the Department of Justice more time — up to a decade — to go after fraudsters.
It’s important “so that innocent folks aren’t left holding the bag,” Davids said.
The Small Business Administration says the pandemic brought in unprecedented levels of fraud, including roughly $4.6 billion dollars in potentially fraudulent PPP loans.
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley said he’s eager for the senate to act next but blames democrats for the flimsy rules he says allowed the fraud to run rampant.
“There are very few controls on that money, how it was spent or watchdogs. I think it’s time to get serious about this. I have introduced legislation repeatedly,” Hawley said.
The initial loan rules were approved by congress during the height of the pandemic with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Last year, the Department of Justice launched the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Since then, the group has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars.