Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Scammers Used Doll Faces to Secure Covid Pandemic Aid in PPP Fraud; CenturyLink Fined $923,000 for Illegal Telephone Disconnections During COVID-19 Pandemic, and other C-Virus related stories

Scammers used doll faces to secure in Covid pandemic aid in PPP fraud:
Fraudsters used the faces of dolls and mannequins to create fake IDs to scam the government’s largest Covid-19 relief programme.
The scam using doll faces to create false IDs made up a small part of the estimated $80bn in fraud connected to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to The Messenger.
A House committee issued a report accusing financial technology companies – fintechs – of making the fraud possible.
The companies advertised themselves as tech-literate intermediaries who could aid those seeking to get government funds from approved lenders to small businesses in dire straits as the pandemic took hold of the country in the spring of 2020.
The firms claimed that their AI software could automatically check the picture IDs of applicants uploading submissions to PPP platforms.
But scammers who uploaded the faces of dolls got through the system and received funding.
The House report states that two fintechs, Womply and Blueacorn, facilitated a third of PPP loans in 2021 before being suspended by the Small Business Administration earlier this year.
A senior investigator at the watchdog Project On Government Oversight, Nick Schwellenbach, told The Messenger, “I don’t know if we’ll ever know the extent of the fraud enabled by Womply, but many of the companies that worked with Womply said it was significant.”
A lender who at one point engaged in a legal dispute with Womply said the company blamed a vendor for approving the IDs with doll faces as photos. --->READ MORE HERE
CenturyLink fined $923,000 for illegal telephone disconnections during COVID-19 pandemic:
The Utilities and Transportation Commission has fined CenturyLink Communications LLC, for $923,000 for involuntarily disconnecting or suspending nearly 1,000 telephone accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A judge found that CenturyLink, doing business as Lumen Technologies, unlawfully disconnected 923 customers from service during Washington Gov. Inslee’s emergency proclamation that lasted from March 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021.
On May 29, 2020, Governor Inslee issued an emergency proclamation prohibiting all telecommunications providers in Washington from disconnecting any residential customers from telecommunications service due to nonpayment.
They are being charged $1,000 for each disconnection, to properly address the impacts to the public. Lumen argued that they shouldn’t be fined due to the disconnections being unintentional and only affected a small percentage of their customers.
When discussing the order amount, the order states, “These violations are both serious and harmful to the public. . . In this case, 923 individual customers were unlawfully disconnected from service during a time when the Governor of Washington determined that telecommunication service is an essential service, and that maintaining access to such service was essential to protect the health and welfare of Washington residents.” --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Winnetka man found guilty of price gouging masks during COVID-19 pandemic

Woman pleads guilty to falsely obtaining PPP loan, using it for vacations

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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