MCLEAN COUNTY (Heart of Illinois ABC) – Local investigators are learning money intended for businesses struggling during the pandemic was not always actually used for it. A McLean County man was charged Thursday for defrauding the government out of that loan money and it’s believed there are more out there.
Bloomington Police say it has a ‘sizeable’ amount of investigations going on looking into who defrauded the government’s Paycheck Protection Program.
“The PPP loan has turned out to be one of the biggest frauds we’ve ever had in American history,” said PIO Brandt Parsley with Bloomington Police.
The PPP loan was set up for businesses struggling to make payroll during the pandemic. There was more than $700 billion given to businesses all over the country. Most of those loans have been forgiven, but investigators are now learning billions handed out were given to fake businesses.
“I think any time you have something where there’s free money potentially given out people are going to learn about it, they’re going to research it and they’re going to find a way to defraud whoever is giving out the free money,” said Parsley.
Thursday, 20-year-old Wesley Fullerlove was charged with theft, loan and wire fraud. The McLean County man was approved for a PPP loan for more than $20,000 in April of 2021. The loan was forgiven about six months later.
Investigators say they found the business was fake and that Fullerlove lied on his loan application. But he’s not the only one.
“I can tell you that there are multiple investigations, both ongoing and concluded,” said Parsley.
People are usually charged federally, but McLean County prosecutors say they have stepped up to help the process.
“You could be in a position where you’re not only doing prison time, but you’re on the hook for restitution,” said Erika Reynolds McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney.
“Charges like this are potentially life altering charges,” said Parsley.
It’s not just McLean County, investigators believe this is far from isolated.
“At some point every police agency in the country will have at least one investigation into this,” said Parsley.
To find out who and what businesses received PPP loans, click here.
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