‘Immense fraud’ creates immense task for Washington as it tries to tighten scrutiny of $6 trillion in emergency coronavirus spending  

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Washington Post via MSN

In Stamford, Conn., a 46-year-old resident pleaded guilty after putting a portion of $4 million in coronavirus aid toward the purchase of a Porsche. And a Mercedes. And a BMW. In Somerset, N.J., a 51-year-old woman allegedly invented employees, inflated wages and fabricated entire tax filings to collect $1 million in loans. And in St. Petersburg, Fla., a federal judge sentenced to prison a 63-year-old man who obtained $800,000 on behalf of businesses that did not exist.

The cases and charges, each announced over the past month, count among hundreds involving a slew of programs enacted by Congress in the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic — money dispatched with such an urgency at the time that it is now putting Washington’s watchdogs to the test. Roughly two years after lawmakers approved their first tranche of rescue funds, the U.S. government is grappling with an unprecedented challenge: how to oversee its own historic stimulus effort. Totaling nearly $6 trillion, the loans, grants, direct checks and other emergency assistance summed to more than the entire federal budget in the fiscal year before the coronavirus arrived, creating a unique and long-term strain on the nation’s policymakers to ensure the funds have been put to good use.

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