WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is expected to show that pandemic loan abuse led to the highest levels of identity theft in the nation’s history, a source within the committee confirmed to NewsNation.
“New reports show that not only were billions of American taxpayer dollars squandered but unfortunately went hand in hand with identity theft of thousands of Americans’ personal identification information. We owe it to the American people to provide answers,” Rep. Jim Comer (R-Ky.) said.
Data obtained from the Federal Trade Commission showed before the pandemic, in 2019, 650,000 cases of identity theft were reported in the U.S. Fraud related to government benefits only made up a tiny fraction, about 23,000 cases.
However, in 2020 and 2021, identity theft ballooned to nearly 1.4 million cases yearly, with more than 800,000 cases directly attributed to fraudulent pandemic-era government benefits.
Wednesday, the committee, chaired by Comer, will convene a hearing on Paycheck Protection Program abuse and what’s being done to catch and punish those who took advantage of a program meant to keep desperate businesses afloat.
The Department of Justice has had an eye on pandemic abuse since the start of the PPP program, but Republicans argue there has been a complete failure of accountability.
“We want to know the extent of the waste, fraud and abuse. What has this administration done to try to claw back any wasteful spending and is there a way we can claw back,” Comer said.
A new report from a government watchdog group found $5.4 billion in federal COVID aid might have gone to businesses tied to questionable Social Security numbers
Court documents and public records showed luxury items were the fruits of fraud, bought and paid for with PPP loan money. Some of the alleged fraudulent purchases include a new million-dollar home in Mississippi and Rolexes bought in Houston.
According to prepared remarks planned for the hearing obtained by NewsNation, Comer is expected to say, “We owe it to the American people to get to the bottom of the greatest theft of American taxpayer dollars in history.”