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How International Networks Exploited the PPP Loan System

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established as a part of the U.S. government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was designed to provide critical financial support to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the rapid deployment and vast scope of the program also made it a prime target for exploitation by international fraud networks.

Widespread Abuse and Sophisticated Schemes

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has taken significant steps to combat COVID-19 related fraud, including schemes targeting PPP loans. As of early 2021, the DOJ charged 474 defendants in connection with fraud schemes attempting to obtain over $569 million from the U.S. government and unsuspecting individuals. The extent of these PPP loan schemes reflects a high degree of coordination, expertise, and international reach, highlighting a critical challenge for law enforcement agencies in tackling such fraud​​.

PPP Fraud: A Haven for International Criminal Networks

PPP fraud cases ranged from individual business owners inflating their payroll expenses to sophisticated criminal networks creating fictitious companies. One notable case involved Dinesh Sah, who applied for 15 different PPP loans, totaling $24.8 million, using 11 different companies. Sah obtained approximately $17.3 million and used the proceeds for luxury purchases. Another case involved Richard Ayvazyan and associates, who applied for 142 PPP and EIDL loans, seeking over $21 million using stolen and fictitious identities and sham companies​​.

The Role of Technology in Fraud Schemes

Technology played a pivotal role in facilitating these fraud schemes. The FBI reported an increase in COVID-19 related fraud involving virtual assets, encrypted devices, and online platforms. These technological advancements provided anonymity and facilitated the quick transfer of illicit funds across borders, making it challenging to track and prosecute the perpetrators. Fraudsters used virtual assets for transactions, as they are often not tied to real-world identities, thus complicating efforts to trace criminal proceeds​​.

Advance Fee and Business Email Compromise Schemes

Fraudsters exploited the high demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other goods, resulting in advance fee and business email compromise (BEC) schemes. In these schemes, victims paid upfront for goods that were never delivered, or they were tricked into redirecting legitimate payments to accounts controlled by fraudsters. Such schemes frequently involved spoofing email addresses of CEOs or other executives to deceive financial institutions and companies into transferring funds to fraudulent accounts​​.

Government Response and Ongoing Investigations

The government’s response to PPP loan fraud has been multifaceted. The DOJ, along with other federal agencies and law enforcement partners, has been actively investigating and prosecuting a wide range of fraud schemes. The department has utilized civil tools to address fraud, including civil settlements under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and the False Claims Act (FCA). These efforts have been instrumental in holding fraudsters accountable and safeguarding taxpayer funds​​​​.


The exploitation of the PPP loan system by international networks underscores the challenges in managing large-scale financial aid programs. The sophistication and global reach of these fraud schemes highlight the need for continuous vigilance, enhanced international cooperation, and advanced technological tools to combat such fraudulent activities effectively. While the government’s response has been significant, the evolving nature of these fraud schemes requires ongoing efforts to safeguard public funds and support genuine beneficiaries in times of crisis.

Shafiq Ch

Shafiq Ch is SEO service provider and writer at NCVLE (New Citizens Viability Law Enforcement). He discusses SEO, guest posts, backlinks, and on-page content issues. He is helping lawyers to rank their sites on the top pages of SERPs.

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