PPP fraud can be identified, tracked on a website created by a software engineer

Brian Hamachek, a resident of Palo Alto, Calif., was viewing a government website listing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) payments last year. He immediately noted that many companies listed either did not exist or had grossly exaggerated their number of employees.

He said he recognized fraud that an investigator in Washington would have no way of knowing about, “like a restaurant that closed a few months before getting its loan and never returned.”

A Texas man was sentenced Monday to more than nine years in prison for COVID-19 fraud and a money laundering scheme. (istock)

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Hamachek is a software engineer. He designed a website to help others identify PPP scammers. A user entering a state and city can see local businesses that have secured loans.

“And then they can also see that company’s Google Street View…how many employees…and they can see the average salary,” he said.

In 2020, Congress and President Trump approved $953 billion for the program, designed to keep workers employed during the pandemic. So far, the Justice Department has opened more than 140 fraud cases totaling millions of dollars, including a Minnesota man who claimed to have 28 employees when he had none, a Maryland pastor who bought luxury cars and a family from Florida who bought a $3 million. residence.

President Donald Trump speaks during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Monday, May 25, 2020, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, blames poor planning and a lack of government oversight for the widespread abuses.

“People take advantage of government money, Schatz said.

The United States has provided over $11 million in PPP loans.

“The federal government was never set up to track money very well, and with the unprecedented amount of money in COVID relief bills, more than ever is going to be wasted,” Schatz added.

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Proponents of the program say it saved regular jobs when the country was in despair. Hamachek believes it is up to good Samaritans to “expose” anyone who has profited from a desperate situation if Washington cannot track government funds.

“Since it’s all our money, it’s all our responsibility,” Hamacheck said, a responsibility it says it has now made easier to fulfill.

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