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The Covid-19 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) paid out to help an orange grove in Mantorville, Minnesota going during the pandemic. Except there is no orange grove in Mantorville.

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ProPublica, an investigative news group says over 370 PPP loans, valued about $7,000,000, went to fake farms across the USA, one of them about 20 miles from Rochester.

The Small Business Administration's records show $17,931 went to "Shaila Big Fresh Oranges" in Historic Mantorville. A second PPP loan, this time for over $20,000, was approved but never activated.

ProPublica - Link in story

At the business address you'll find a private home, within the city limits with a lawn, but no orange trees.

 

Fox 9 spoke with the homeowner, and,

"She said she was surprised to hear that her name and her former address were used. The woman stressed she did not apply for the loans and did not receive a dime from the program."

Using identity theft, it was easy for the "business" to apply for the PPP loan, and unlikely anyone would notice an orange grove was supposedly situated here in Minnesota.

In some cases, these problems would’ve been easy to spot with just a little more upfront diligence — which the program’s structure did not encourage. (Source)

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One online lender was responsible for the vast majority of "fake farm" PPP Loans being granted. Is it possible the 5% earned on each loan was an incentive? Check out the entire ProPublica story if you don't mind a months worth of indigestion.

As always, if you have a comment, complaint, or concern about something I wrote here, please let me know: james.rabe@townsquaremedia.com

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Now these 19 businesses, they're for real...and would make a nice weekend getaway!

Enjoy wine at one of these 19 wineries near Rochester, Minnesota

Grab your girlfriends and head out for a weekend (or two) for the best summer adventure ever - winery tours! Ok, you don't have to take an actual tour of the winery. This is more of a sit-down and enjoy a glass of their homemade goodness with a few of your friends. Start your adventure by checking out a few of these places near Rochester, Minnesota.