Multiple people in Illinois are back behind bars after police discovered they used PPP money to bond out of jail.
An investigation found that 25 people were arrested during a sting operation targeting those who fraudulently received Paycheck Protection Program funds without actually owning a business in Joliet. Of those 25, police say that 15 applied for and used the funds solely to bail out of jail.
The inmates used jail phones to complete the PPP loan process while still incarcerated, receiving anywhere from $19,000 to $20,000. Once the money, which usually only took days to receive, hit the designated bank accounts, the inmates quickly posted bail. Per PPP loan guidelines, recipients charged with felonies are not eligible to receive the funds. No business licenses were found for any of the applicants.
“Some of the targets bonded out on their felony cases days after receiving their fraudulent PPP loan,” Joliet Police Chief William Evans said during Wednesday’s news conference.
Bank records confirmed that the money was received and used to pay bonds.
The Paycheck Protection Program was launched as a remedy for business owners struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to business closures and entrepreneurs working to stay afloat, many applications were approved with little to no review process, which made it extremely accessible for fraudsters to get PPP loans. In many cases, the loans were forgiven. In fact, the fraud has run so rampant that PPP loans were added to a list of government programs that were at high risk for fraud.
The defendants are all facing new charges of wire fraud, theft, and loan fraud.