Skip to content
Social media was full of gossip about how easy it was to get a $10,000 grant, evidence of widespread fraud.

Social media was full of gossip about how easy it was to get a $10,000 grant, evidence of widespread fraud.

Animation: Bloomberg; Source: Twitter

An Avalanche of Fraud Buried a Small-Business Relief Program

Scams went viral as SBA gave out $10,000 grants to almost anyone who asked.

For a few months this year, a U.S. government aid program meant for struggling small-business owners was handing out $10,000 to just about anyone who asked. All it took was a five-minute online application. You just had to say you owned a business with at least 10 employees, and the grant usually arrived within a few days.

People caught on fast. In some neighborhoods in Chicago and Miami, it seemed like everyone made a bogus application to the Small Business Administration’s Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Professional thieves from Russia to Nigeria cashed in. Low-level employees at the agency watched helplessly as misspent money flew out the door.