Thursday, February 1, 2024

$50M+ Improperly Spent on DOD Credit Cards During COVID Pandemic; Borrowers in a Bind Over Defaulted COVID-19 Loan, and other C-Virus related stories

$50M+ improperly spent on DOD credit cards during COVID pandemic:
The COVID-19 pandemic forced units and offices throughout the Defense Department to stock up on a range of supplies, from disposable masks to gloves and disinfectant, all of which could be purchased with a government-issued credit card and paid off by the Pentagon.
But a DOD Inspector General review of more than 100,000 government purchase card transactions made from March 2020 to January 2022 reveals that roughly $54 million in purchases didn’t align with COVID-19 necessities.
That is nearly 40% of the $242 million spent on such needs, according to the IG report.
Another $52 million, in purchases wasn’t properly documented, and the IG was unable to verify what the cardholders actually bought.
“The audit determined that DOD [government purchase card] program officials did not conduct the required oversight to identify and correct improper or unsupported purchases by cardholders for the DOD’s response to COVID-19,” Robert Storch, the Pentagon’s inspector general, said in a Jan. 17 release accompanying the report.
The White House’s declaration of a national emergency freed up millions of dollars to be spent on pandemic response, but the IG’s report concluded that a large chunk of what DOD spent during that time was paid for with emergency funds despite the purchases having nothing to do with the pandemic.
In one example, an Army cardholder spent $2,000 on a plumber to investigate a sinkhole, then coded the purchase as “COVID-19.” The official who then signed off on the expense didn’t correct the coding. --->READ MORE HERE
Borrowers in a bind over defaulted COVID-19 loan:
When the pandemic hit, Cut Seven gym owners Chris and Alex Perrin did what it took for their business to survive. Unable to hold workouts inside, they held workouts on fields until they converted a rundown body shop into an open-air gym. To keep their employees, they wiped out Chris’s 401(k) savings.
And like millions of Americans, they turned to the federal government for help.
In 2020, the Perrins took out a $24,000 COVID-19 "economic injury disaster loan,” commonly called “EIDL,” from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help keep their business afloat.
Their hard work paid off. While so many companies around the world closed during the pandemic, their business thrived.
“We more than doubled during COVID,” Alex said.
And they wanted to double their reach, so in 2022, the entrepreneurs said they took out a $575,000 loan to build a new and larger gym in Arlington, Virginia. During construction last year, however, they realized they needed even more money. Their lender advised taking out a new loan, and during the closing, the Perrins said they received a shock.
“They said, 'You have an EIDL loan, and it's coming up in default,” Alex recalled, adding, “We were shocked.”
The Perrins had made a few payments on their SBA loan in early 2023 but said they didn't realize they had subsequently fallen behind, telling News4 they thought they had set up auto-payments. The SBA then “charged off” their loan in June 2023, which, according to the agency’s website, means the balance of the loan was removed from the agency's accounting records, though the debt is still owed.
As a result, the Perrins’ bank couldn’t move forward with their loan until the problem was solved. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

Honolulu City Council ‘reprograms’ $39M in federal COVID funds

10 Places You're Most Likely To Catch COVID, According to a Doctor

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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