Thousands of individuals, including Patrick Parker Walsh, have been exposed in having engaged in significant fraud schemes, potentially plundering over $280 billion in federal COVID-19 aid.
Walsh, a Florida businessman, is serving time for stealing nearly $8 million in relief funds, using some of it to purchase an island.
“His crimes are egregious and the product of greed,” prosecutors wrote.
The pandemic relief fraud involved a wide range of individuals, from a rapper in Tennessee to a doctor in New York, who used the funds for extravagant purchases and criminal activities.
The scale of the fraud presents a challenge for law enforcement, with nearly 3,200 defendants charged and about $1.4 billion in stolen aid seized so far.
“The uncomfortable truth is the federal criminal justice system is simply not equipped to fully address the unprecedented volume of pandemic relief fraud cases, large and small, and involving thousands upon thousands of domestic and foreign actors,” said former executive director of the federal Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Bob Westbrooks.
“We’ll stay at it for as long as it takes,” U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco stated.
Despite the enormity of the task, the Justice Department has created special “strike forces” to pursue COVID-19 aid thieves.
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