What is stimulus fraud?

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Stimulus fraud typically describes the act of lying or misrepresenting oneself as a way to fraudulently obtain government money in the form of stimulus funds.

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There have been several instances of stimulus fraud in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, when the government has offered stimulus checks and largely forgivable loans to Americans and those whose businesses have struggled as a result of the stifled economy.

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In one of the first instances of stimulus fraud reported during the pandemic, two businessmen were charged in May with fraudulently seeking more than $500,000.

David A. Staveley, who also goes by Kurt Sanborn, of Andover, Massachusetts, and David Butziger of Warwick, Rhode Island, were accused of claiming they needed to pay employees at businesses affected by the pandemic when in reality their businesses were not operating before the outbreak of the virus began and had no employees on the payroll.

CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS FRAUD ARREST: HOW A SMALL-TOWN TIP EXPOSED A $500K FRAUD SCHEME

Authorities said Staveley sought nearly $440,000 in loans claiming that he needed to pay dozens of employees at three restaurants he owned. However, two of the restaurants weren’t open before the pandemic began and he didn’t have any connection to the third restaurant he claimed to have owned, authorities said.

Meanwhile, Butziger sought more than $100,000 claiming he had seven full-time employees to pay at a business he owned called Dock Wireless, authorities said. The state of Rhode Island has no record of Butziger paying employees this year and several supposed employees interviewed by agents said they never worked for him or Dock Wireless, authorities said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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