WASHINGTON (WJZ) – The U.S. Secret Service said Friday it has helped recover $2 billion after investigating acts of fraud that exploited Covid-19 relief funds.

In the year it has been investigating Covid-related financial fraud, the Secret Service has seized more than $640 million in fraudulently obtained funds and helped return $2 billion to state unemployment insurance programs. The Secret Service also began nearly 690 unemployment insurance fraud investigations and inquiries, as well as Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Paycheck Protection Program fraud investigations and inquiries.

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The Secret Service has the statutory authority to investigate and disrupt the fraudulent exploitation of money earmarked specifically for pandemic-related financial relief as part of the agency’s responsibility to protect the U.S. financial infrastructure. That relief is part of money in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), and the American Rescue Plan.

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“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have been depending on the men and women of the Secret Service to safeguard the integrity of essential financial relief,” said U.S. Secret Service Director James M. Murray. “For more than 150 years, the Secret Service has been identifying and investigating individuals and organizations engaged in fraud and determined to undermine the nation’s financial stability – a mission we continue to uphold today.”

Investigations specific to pandemic relief fraud continue, as the Secret Service participates in many local, regional and headquarters level task forces led by the Department of Justice, including the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force. These partner entities further combat the widespread criminal activity associated with those programs and share data, collaborate on investigations and prevent the duplication of government efforts.

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CBS Baltimore Staff