By Brenda Guerrero

It was carefully planned by professional thieves, Covid-19 was the excuse, and foreign and domestic actors were involved.
  
The stealing of the US small-business aid perpetrated on the Small Business Administration (SBA) last year is estimated to be in the billions of dollars.  An analysis of the SBA data shows that in Chicago, Atlanta, Miami and Houston the number of $10k grants issued exceeded the number of eligible recipients by 128,000 costing taxpayers $1.3 billion.  The SBA’s new computer system was part of the problem when it “proved blind to certain types of fraud” ¹. Moreover, cybercriminals in Russia and other foreign countries along with domestic scammers stole from the relief program via YouTube.  Although SBA staff, cybersecurity experts, banks and the Department of Justice is aware of the theft, only 23 individuals have been charged with fraud or other crimes.

Despite the massive loss, the SBA still has funds for small business owners and there is still time to apply for a Payroll Protection Loan2. Applications must be approved by March 31, 2021 though it appears the deadline is likely to be extended by 60 days.  Visit the SBA website to learn more: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program

Programs available to businesses:

Paycheck Protection Program - $284 billion of forgivable loans to small businesses
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant - $15 billion available for businesses with fewer than 50 employees
Economic Injury Disaster Loans – designed to cover working capital and operating expenses

Remember to apply as soon as possible before a professional criminal comes and steals your right to these funds.