The U.S. Secret Service said that nearly $100 billion has potentially been stolen from COVID-19 relief programs designed to help individuals and businesses harmed by the pandemic. The funds have “attracted the attention of individuals and organized criminal networks” world-wide, the agency said in a news release, though its estimate of stolen benefits represents just a fraction of the trillions of dollars in government relief provided since last year. The Secret Service said that it would work closely with a variety of federal agencies — including the Labor Department and Small Business Administration, which have key roles tracking and administering relief funds — to investigate and recover fraudulently disbursed funds. The bulk of the potentially misused funds are believed to have stemmed from fraud tied to unemployment insurance.
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