Avon Park SBA mortgage fraud sufferer: ‘Our tax {dollars} are being stolen’

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AVON PARK, Fla. (WFLA) – Retired detective Robert Crews revived his legislation enforcement abilities to cease a fraudulent COVID-19 reduction mortgage for $155,000 and forestall his social safety quantity and identify from getting additional tangled in a multi-billion greenback fraud scheme.

Crews, 71, of Avon Park, was alerted to a “exhausting inquiry” on his credit score report a few Small Enterprise Administration (SBA) mortgage he by no means utilized for – an indicator fraud stays energetic within the Financial Damage Catastrophe Mortgage (EIDL) program aimed toward protecting companies afloat through the pandemic.

However bogus companies, together with a number of phony farms in Tampa, are getting a slice of the $190 billion pie, in line with an SBA Workplace of Inspector Normal report that flagged greater than $78 billion in probably fraudulent loans.

“The nightmare began final Monday,” Crews stated. “First, I discover out somebody modified my electronic mail handle. Experian suggested me a ‘exhausting inquiry’ from the SBA had been obtained that morning and it was for an emergency mortgage out of their Texas workplace.”

Crews spent two days contacting the credit score bureaus to “lock” his recordsdata. He additionally discovered from the SBA the mortgage software in his identify included a routing quantity that isn’t linked to his financial institution, providing a possible clue to who would’ve really obtained the cash.

The 37-year Highland County Sheriff’s Workplace veteran stated the method to clear his identify took a giant “stress toll” on him, however he hopes different victims may even go to the feds.

“Hopefully if the federal companies get sufficient reviews, they may make this a precedence to place these criminals away,” Crews stated. “Our tax {dollars} are being stolen by unscrupulous individuals who solely care about themselves and never the tens of millions of people that want help.”

Whereas Crews foiled the mortgage earlier than the cash was transferred, an 8 On Your Aspect investigation into a number of phony farms alerted dozens of others who didn’t know their data was used for loans.

A number of different Tampa Bay space residents have obtained invoices informing them they should begin paying again cash they didn’t apply for.

SBA spokesperson Kathy Prepare dinner from the company’s Atlanta-based Workplace of Catastrophe Help stated there are “checks and balances in place” to protect in opposition to fraud however she wouldn’t present specifics.

With the Home Small Enterprise Committee approving one other $50 billion in emergency pandemic support, Rep. Gus Bilirakis stated congress will likely be placing strain on the SBA to tighten its course of to forestall fraud.

“There’s going to be laws,” Bilirakis stated. “Some folks make errors however what’s occurring right here is unacceptable.”

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