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Business and Economy

Maine State Housing Authority identifies $6.5M in fraudulent rental assistance applications

for rent.JPG
Troy R. Bennett
A for rent sign stands outside a building in Portland on Friday, May 6, 2022.

More than 400 fraudulent applications amounting to nearly $6.5 million have been submitted to Maine's pandemic rental relief program since it launched last March. Scott Thistle, spokesperson for the Maine State Housing Authority, says suspicious applications were flagged by community action agencies and reviewed by an investigator.

"So red flag things like really high rents for an area that you wouldn't typically expect to see," Thistle says. "A total rent amount that's owed that's excessively large. A landlord's mailing address is out of state."

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program has distributed nearly $200 million in rental assistance to more than 26,000 households. The Maine State Housing Authority recently announced it's tightening eligibility to ensure the remaining funds will be available through next winter.