Biometrics to recover stolen US aid meant for Covid-hit firms? No way
Anyone expecting to hear how biometrics can be used to recoup the hundreds of billions of dollars defrauded from U.S. government Covid assistance programs felt foolish after a Congressional hearing on theft this week.
Rather, the government has to make it easy and financially attractive for people who know of fraud to become whistleblowers. All the information at Washington’s disposal cannot even narrow to the nearest hundred billion how much aid was stolen.
Identity verification would be the rearmost of rear-guard actions, and that came through in testimony before the House Committee on Small Business. Committee members were considering innovative ways to win back pandemic loans and aid made based on fraudulent applications and, not incidentally, punish the thieves.
Witnesses, one the senior director of fraud investigations at identity-verification service firm ID.me, had nothing to say about how biometrics can be used in any significant way on the problem.
But 10 minutes before the funds were released to prevent an economic collapse unknown since the Black Death, that would have been a good time to have tools to thwart fraud strategies like presentation attacks.
A couple of vociferous House members in the committee took the opportunity to criticize the Small Business Administration, manager of the hard-hit Payment Protection Program, for not making better use of ID verification when approving loans to struggling businesses and fraudsters.
There is no record of the representatives, who as committee members oversee operations of the SBA, raising the issue prior to the historic tsunami of scams perpetrated by individuals, businesses and other nations.
In fact, Richard Breeden, one of the meeting’s witnesses, said he has managed high-profile efforts to take back fraud for 35 years and he has never seen a government aid program that faced a false-claims rate of less than 30 percent. Breeden, a former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, also owns Breeden Capital Management.