KDKA Investigation Into Questionable Paycheck Safety Program Cash Spawns FBI Probe – CBS Pittsburgh
BRADDOCK, Pa. (KDKA) — After about two weeks of our knocking on doors and looking into questionable Paycheck Protection Program loans in Braddock and throughout the Mon Valley, federal agents are now doing the same.
FBI agents interviewed Braddock Police Chief Guy Collins on Thursday about a suspected fraud ring operating in his town.
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“Basically, checking up on your investigation that you started,” Collins said.
KDKA’s investigation has uncovered scores of questionable loans — tens of thousands of dollars each — going to people claiming to run legitimate businesses. They filed as barbers, beauticians, caterers and construction companies — but KDKA found no evidence of those activities at their addresses.
The police chief said the FBI is looking for a person or persons who filed fraudulent applications and paperwork on behalf of those people in return for a kickback of several thousands of dollars from each.
His own investigation is pointing to a person who reportedly had a signup sheet at a bar in Braddock.
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Sheehan: Did hear about a signup sheet?
Collins: I’ve heard that, yes.
Sheehan: At that club?
Collins: A person who would frequent that club.
Sheehan: That’s where they had the sheet?
Collins: Yes, but by no means am I implicating the owner or the manager of that place at all. People can pick any spot to meet.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan went to the bar in question, and the manager had no comment. But KDKA’s investigation has gone beyond Braddock, revealing the suspected fraud to be widespread and finding similar patterns and loans in McKeesport and Monessen.
The FBI would not confirm or deny its investigation on Friday, but Collins said the investigation goes beyond Braddock.
“There are things going on in McKeesport and other places. Their main concern was going in Braddock, but it’s countywide. They’re looking at all these people applying for these PPP loans,” Collins said.
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And since starting its investigation, KDKA has found evidence that these types of fraud rings go well beyond the Mon Valley and are now being investigated across the country.