The criminals used the stolen money from the COVID-19 relief funds to support their own lifestyles.
Difficulties in Tracing Financial Transactions
CBS News reported that the fraudsters behind these crimes hail from various nations and have diverse backgrounds, highlighting the worldwide reach of their schemes.
The fraudsters have used the stolen money to live extravagant lives, but some have been apprehended and given prison sentences.
Unfortunately, not all of the criminals will be brought to justice as digital evidence can be easily destroyed and tracking the financial trail is a challenging task.
Money Taken by Scammers
Nearly $280 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds has been stolen by thousands of thieves. This stolen money makes up approximately 10% of the total aid provided by the US government to help lessen the economic impact of the pandemic.
The thieves used the stolen money to buy expensive things like houses, cars, jewelry, and vacations. They also enjoyed activities such as gambling and visiting strip clubs. The government’s simple aid distribution process, designed to provide quick relief with little trouble, made it easy for these fraudsters to lie on their applications and get away with the stolen money.
Many criminals used the stolen money to live a luxurious life, but only about $1.4 billion of the stolen funds have been confiscated. Unfortunately, the federal justice system is not equipped to handle the overwhelming number of pandemic fraud cases. To combat this, the US Justice Department has formed special strike forces to hunt down these criminals and retrieve the stolen money.
As per a report from WPTV, there are several criminals who have used stolen money for extravagant purchases. For instance, a businessman from Florida bought a private island, a doctor from New York splurged on luxury watches and made a down payment for a yacht, and a resident from Houston purchased a Lamborghini and spent a significant amount of money at strip clubs.