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Georgia cash assistance | GBI, state agencies investigating reports of stolen funds

The GBI and the state Attorney General's office told 11Alive the investigation is ongoing. Here's what we know

ATLANTA — Three state agencies are investigating reports that scammers stole funds intended for low-income Georgia residents who qualified for Gov. Brian Kemp's $350 cash assistance program.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Attorney General's Office and the State Department of Human Services are working together to investigate the reported fraud, Attorney General spokesperson Kara Richardson said.

"We are not investigating the program itself," Richardson said in a statement.

GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles said that the agency opened its investigation into reports of stolen funds in October 2022, a few weeks after the program's launch. 

"The investigation is active and ongoing. We don’t have any additional details to share at this point," Miles said in a statement. 

The Georgia Department of Human Services, the state agency that oversees the cash assistance program, didn't say how many people reported their funds stolen.

It's also unclear how many people were reimbursed for their losses. Georgia's human services department said that a third-party vendor, Rellevate, manages disputes and handles reimbursements in cases of fraud. 11Alive was unable to reach Rellevate representatives before publication.

Kemp dedicated roughly $1 billion to the state's Human Services Department to provide up to $350 for active enrollees in Medicaid, PeachCare for Kids, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) program.

Residents in more than one of the programs listed above would receive only one payment. Payments were sent to residents via physical or digital cards.

Issues with the program began shortly after its launch in late September 2022. The department issued warnings in early October, asking residents to be wary of phishing scams to steal participants' information.

Since the program's launch, $1,061,773,300 has been sent to 3,033,638 Georgians with $826,242,550 of that money claimed and $755,916,991 spent as of Jan. 11, according to data from the state's Department of Human Services.

Some residents said Thursday that they are still waiting to receive their payments.

"This innovative program – likely the largest virtual card program in history – has positively impacted countless Georgians at a truly critical time," Department of Human Services spokesperson Kylie Winton said.

11Alive reporter Liza Lucas contributed to this story.

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