Last week the government recovered $ 6.3 million. (Archive)
The secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources , Carlos Rivera Santiago, confirmed this Monday that as of last Friday the agency had recovered over $ 30 million in checks from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program delivered by people. to which the money did not correspond.
For example, last week alone the money recovered amounted to $ 6.3 million, while the previous one added another $ 6.4 million.
“As of today there are $ 30,949,357 of money returned by the citizens,” the official stated in a radio interview (WKAQ -580 AM).
Rivera Santiago explained that people who have received a check by mistake or other circumstance can go to a DTRH office to deliver the check or a money order in the name of the Secretary of the Treasury, Francisco Parés, in case it has changed. Likewise, you must accompany the check with a letter explaining the reason for the return.
“The checks arrive and once they arrive they are being divided by returned checks, money orders issued by the citizens and we are also dividing them by cases of government employees who have returned checks, minors and some inmates who have been detected. Those checks are being classified and all of them are being counted, “ explained Rivera Santiago.
Asked about the specific number of people who have returned PUA checks, the official did not offer a number, but did say that “there are thousands.”
“This gives us to understand that at some point there was a large group of people who did not necessarily qualify and were occupying the space and this delayed the process even more to be able to attend the claim,” he explained.
Regarding the most recurrent reasons for the return of checks, the secretary said that the majority indicated that he understood that the money did not correspond to him or that he made a mistake when submitting the aid.
Rivera Santiago stressed that PUA fraud schemes have also been detected in other jurisdictions in the United States, but that in no state has there been a massive refund of money as in Puerto Rico .
According to the secretary, in the new application platform of the federal program “FastPUA” there are only about 100,000 people registered, of the 370,000 who had claimed before the website was launched last month.
Against this background, the Prosecutor's Office continues to file charges against dozens of people arrested for fraud to the federal program.
For example, the first defendant for PUA fraud was sentenced to six years in prison. It was Miguel A. Martínez Rivera, 45, who came to a Banco Popular branch to try to cash a check for $ 10,460.00 from the PUA on July 14 using information corresponding to another person.