Braddock boss suspects organized fraud ring operation after KDKA investigation of PPP loans – CBS Pittsburgh
BRADDOCK, PA (KDKA) – The town of Braddock is mentioned: Nearly three dozen residents are receiving tens of thousands of dollars in paycheck protection loans despite having no visible signs of current or previous employment.
Are the claims legitimate? Or have more than 30 people in the downtrodden Braddock and parts of North Braddock tried to play the system?
So KDKA knocked on the door to find out how. How were these people admitted in the last days of April for tens of thousands of dollars in PPP – the federal government’s wage protection program? The first thing we found was that many of them did not live at the address where property records indicate they had different owners.
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All recipients are registered as sole proprietorships, meaning they generally own and operate a business themselves. Each of them applied for the maximum and forgivable loan of $ 20,833 and said they had at least $ 100,000 worth of business in any given year done if it hadn’t been for COVID.
Some have listed these businesses as hairdressers and hairdressers, but we’ve checked and none of them run a business or are licensed by the state to be hairdressers or beauticians as required by law. This includes a woman who has been approved as a hairdresser for two maximum loans of more than $ 40,000.
Mrs: “She doesn’t live here.”
Sheehan: “Well, she gets a loan at this address.”
Mrs: “I don’t know about it, sir.”
Sheehan: “Is she a hairdresser?”
Mrs: “No she is not.”
A man applied for $ 20,000 in loans even though we checked that he is unlicensed and has no shop. The neighbors say they don’t know he’s cutting someone’s hair. Like some others, he did not come to the door.
In another house that is empty and abandoned, a woman who claims to live there is given $ 20,000 as a self-employed food service contractor.
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We brought our findings to the attention of Braddock boss Guy Collins, who opened his own investigation, knocked on doors, and found his own evidence of possible fraud.
“A lot of them are unlicensed and some of the places are deserted and the shops don’t exist. I find out that a lot of people have so-called companies out here that don’t exist. And apparently they applied for this PPP money and received it, ”he said.
According to records, a woman applied for $ 20,000 as a caterer. KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke to a man who says he was her father-in-law who found this surprising.
Sheehan: “She says she’s a caterer.”
Man: “She says she’s a caterer?”
Sheehan: “Is she a caterer?”
Man: “Not that I know of.”
The boss says he is turning this over to the US Attorney’s Office for investigation because he believes an organized fraud ring is operating in his city.
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“When you have that many people in this general field, I’d say there has to be some kind of connection,” said Collins.