Maine Landlords & Tenants Have Attempted to Steal $6 Million From State’s COVID Relief Program
In a shocking new report, the Maine State Housing Authority says that more than $6,000,000.00 was almost scammed out of the State's COVID relief program.
According to WGME & The Bangor Daily News, the Maine State Housing Authority was able to detect at least 408 different applications for emergency rental assistance that they say were fraudulent. When all added up, those fraudulent applications added up to a staggering $6,400,000.00.
According to the report, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, a COVID era program, began in the winter of 2021 has dispersed more than $197 million to Maine renters and has received more than 49,000 applications since the inception of the program. And though there have been instances of landlords attempting the fraud, the Maine State Housing Authority says the majority of fraudulent applications have come from tenants themselves.
With all those numbers being so high, it's really quite remarkable that the Maine State Housing Authority was able to detect those fraudulent applications during the process. Maine State Housing Authority's spokesman, Scott Thistle, told the news station in part,
“There are red flags that we ask the community action agencies that are processing the applications to look for, including rent that is beyond what would be expected for an area."
WGME reports that of the $350 million that Maine was allocated in the rental assistance program, the Maine State Housing Authority has distributed about 56% of those total funds to Maine renters. That, so far, has helped about 26,000 individual Maine households.
Not surprisingly, government assistance programs have always been a target of scammers and people looking to commit fraud, WGME reports. Even the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, was a target for people looking to make a quick, albeit fraudulent buck, off the back's of American taxpayers.