Hundreds of PPP loans went to phantom farms in Nebraska, elsewhere
Derek Willis and Lydia DePillis, ProPublica
via Omaha World-Herald (NE) - Jun 4, 2021
This story was originally published by ProPublica. ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.
The shoreline communities of Ocean County, New Jersey, are a summertime getaway for throngs of urbanites, lined with vacation homes and ice cream parlors. Not exactly pastoral — which is odd, considering dozens of Paycheck Protection Program loans to supposed farms that flowed into the beach towns last year.
As the first round of the federal government’s relief program for small businesses wound down last summer, “Ritter Wheat Club” and “Deely Nuts,” ostensibly a wheat farm and a tree nut farm, each got $20,833, the maximum amount available for sole proprietorships. “Tomato Cramber,” up the coast in Brielle, got $12,739, while “Seaweed Bleiman” in Manahawkin got $19,957.
None of these entities exist in New Jersey’s business records, and the owners of the homes at which they are purportedly located expressed surprise when contacted by ProPublica. One entity categorized as a cattle ranch, “Beefy King,” was registered in PPP records to the home address of Joe Mancini, the mayor of Long Beach Township.
“There’s no farming here: We’re a sandbar, for Christ’s sake,” said Mancini, reached by telephone. Mancini said that he had no cows at his home, just three dogs.
All of these loans to nonexistent businesses came through Kabbage, an online lending platform that processed nearly 300,000 PPP loans before the first round of funds ran out in August 2020, second only to Bank of America.
In total, ProPublica found 378 small loans totaling $7 million to fake business entities...
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