Between April 3 and April 16, 2020, nearly $350 million was handed out in the form of loans, as part of the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program. Individuals and small business were compensated for COVID-related losses, and were allowed to apply for loans moving forward.

The program benefitted many, but was also taken advantage of by some, exposing a few holes in the system.

Those who were caught exposing the PPP system have often been charged with fraud, and that's exactly what may happen to a resident of the Capital Region.

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Debra Hackstadt Arrested, Pleads Guilty for Obtaining Fraudulent Loans

67-year old Debra Hackstadt, a native of Guilderland, New York, has pled guilty COVID-19 relief fraud, according to a report from the United States Department of Justice. In total, Hackstadt obtained a total of 32 pandemic relief loans, totaling roughly $1.6 million, between April 2020 and June 2021.

President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program And Health Care Enhancement Act In Oval Office
President Trump Signs Paycheck Protection Program In Oval Office / Getty Images
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The FBI was called in to investigate this case, and the findings were mind-blowing. On loan applications, Hackstadt would frequently lie about important details, including the size of the businesses that she was "applying" on behalf of, employee count, payrolls and much more. The loans were spread out over a number of recipients, including Hackstadt, her family, close friends and other businesses related to the family, according to the Department of Justice.

If convicted, a 20-year prison sentence may face Debra Hackstadt, a decision that will be passed down in October of 2022.


Is PPP Fraud a Common Occurrence in the United States?

Simply put, this is far from the only example of fraud that happened in relation to a Paycheck Protection Program and/or COVID-19 relief loan.

As reported by The New York Times in August of last year, an estimated $76 billion of the $800 billion allotted for the program may have been obtained fraudulently. That's nearly 10% of the money in total, being given to those who are misrepresenting their intentions in some way.

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