July 14, 2023
Fraud Friday – House Hearing Reveals $650 Billion in Likely Pandemic Fraud and “Swindler Barbie”
“Given the drastically different figures in these reports, and the lack of an adequate plan to recoup these stolen taxpayer funds, we invited SBA Administrator Guzman to join us here today. But as you can see by her empty seat, she declined the offer. You would think that a report from a non-partisan watchdog claiming hundreds of billions of dollars were disbursed to criminals through the SBA would warrant her showing up to this Committee today, but that obviously isn’t the case for Administrator Guzman,” says Chairman Roger Williams of the House Committee on Small Business.
The House Committee hearing that took place yesterday focused on the pandemic fraud estimates from both the SBA and the SBA OIG reports released on the same day. While the Inspector General detailed $200 billion in potential fraud, the SBA’s report published shortly after estimated $36 billion in pandemic fraud. Administrator Guzman did not attend the hearing, and most members of the Committee expressed disappointment that she was not present to defend the SBA’s claims and work to find a solution for the fraud that occurred.
Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware said that “SBA is mistaken, and I think they know that,” when asked about the differences in reporting from the SBA and SBA Inspector General. He later went on to say, “I’m sitting in the middle of the fight, and $36 billion is just not a logical number.”
Coming to the defense of their report, Inspector General Ware explained that the OIG has access to more data that is unavailable to the SBA, allowing the OIG to more accurately determine levels of fraud compared to the SBA. He also asserted that the fraud might fall short of or exceed $200 billion, but $200 billion is the current estimate of potential fraud. “Potential fraud” refers to loans that warrant investigation by the OIG and other investigative partners, but the Inspector General said they found up to $650 billion in “likely fraud”.
Throughout the hearing, Committee members shared appreciation and gratitude for the work that the Inspector General and OIG have conducted to combat the bad actors and reclaim stolen taxpayer dollars.
Near the end, Representative Aaron Bean brought to attention the “Swindler Barbie” scam as a staff member flipped over a poster board with doll faces behind him. At the end of June, reports about the PPP scam were coming out and describing the photos of doll heads submitted as PPP applicants’ picture IDs.
The Messenger Article