Online companies fusing tech and financing became major players in the government’s Paycheck Protection Program in the past year. A new academic analysis suggests they also fueled billions in fraudulent loans.

The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin released a report Tuesday analyzing the $780 billion lending program that boosted the burgeoning “fintech” market, which replaced traditional banking relationships with apps and algorithms.

Overall, the report identified more than 1.8 million loans with indications of potential fraud by borrowers, representing about $76 billion – nearly 10% of the total loaned in the COVID-19 business assistance program. About 960,000 of those, $21 billion, came through the new online lenders.

Lead researcher John Griffin said the team looked at nine indicators, including four primary and five secondary red flags that could indicate misreporting by borrowers.

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