Preview: Fraud, the new cash crop


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After hearing about one Sioux Falls business that got a bill for a $150,000 Small Business Administration Disaster Loan, that it never took out, KELOLAND Investigates decided to take a deeper dive into just how prevalent the problem is in South Dakota.
What we found was a series of fake farms right, in the middle of towns, that cashed in on government money at the expense of the identities of South Dakotans.

You may remember we brought you the story of how Sioux Falls business, Key Media Solutions and its owner, Korena Keys, had their identities stolen in order for fraudsters to get away with $150,000.

“They were able to confirm that it was my name and Social Security number of the application. But they were also able to confirm it was not my email address and it was not my phone number. At first, it’s like, did this really happen?

Korena Keys, Key Media Solutions

A Small Business Administration Inspector General report shows that SBA approved $14.3 billion to accounts that differed from the original bank accounts listed on the loan applications. Nearly $63 billion was approved to applicants who used the same IP addresses, email addresses, bank accounts or businesses listed at the same addresses.

Following our story with Keys, KELOLAND Investigates was able to extract the data of every borrower for the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan program in South Dakota. The SBA was required to release the information in December. We went through 7,598 entries of businesses, including farms in South Dakota, which received $463.5 million. Because of the sheer volume, we narrowed down our search to farms and began uncovering many fakes.

Angela Kennecke: So is this Beth MB Potato Farm?
Beth Boyens: No.
Angela Kennecke: No potato farm here?
Boyens: No potato farm here.

“I don’t have a tomato farm, in fact, I don’t have a farm,” Shane Sarver of Spearfish said.

“I am not a farmer, no,” Brendan Dix of Sioux Falls said.

In “Fraud, the new cash crop,” we show you the number of fake farms and fraud we found just by conducting searches of the SBA data on South Dakota disaster loans. Plus, just how much all that fraud adds up to and who was targeted in our full investigation Thursday night at 10.

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