Hundreds of State Employees Accused of Scamming Taxpayers

Hundreds of state employees in Illinois have allegedly committed fraud by improperly obtaining federal pandemic business relief loans. So far, the State Inspector General’s Office has referred 177 cases to law enforcement, with an investigation that began last year focusing on loans of $20,000 or more from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

The specifics of the alleged fraud won’t be known until the reports on these cases are issued. The State Inspector General found allegedly fraudulent loans totaling $4.5 million, and less than half (204) of the total investigations (438) have been completed. To date, the majority of the cases, 132, have been tied to employees with the Department of Human Services. The Department of Children and Family Services had 25 cases. 

The 177 workers suspected of defrauding PPP have been referred to the Illinois Attorney General’s office for possible prosecution. No one has been charged with any crime yet, but the investigations are ongoing and described as ‘far from being finished.’

At one state facility in Park Forest, 20 employees were fired, 14 resigned, and three faced disciplinary action because of evidence they might have obtained PPP loans fraudulently, state officials noted in August. It is unknown how many of the 177 initially charged employees have been fired, resigned, or are facing internal discipline. To qualify for a loan of $20,000 or more, a business would generally need to have had a gross income of more than $100,000 the previous year. 

In 2022, the Office of the Executive Inspector General for the Agencies of the Illinois Governor initiated a large-scale fraud investigation project to examine whether State of Illinois employees improperly obtained federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. PPP loans were issued to provide relief to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and were eligible for forgiveness if used for qualifying expenses. To date, the improper loans identified in these founded reports total more than $4.5 million in public funds. The OEIG’s PPP investigation project remains ongoing. These numbers do not reflect a final total of OEIG founded reports or a final total for any particular agency. 

More on this situation as investigations continue. Several large state executive agencies have not had numbers reported yet for fraud, nor have we seen numbers from other state executive offices like the Secretary of State’s office and more.