US says it recovered $1.4 billion from COVID-related fraud


A US initiative designed to combat COVID-related fraud has resulted in the seizure of $1.4 billion and thousands of criminal charges over the past three years, the Department of Justice (DoJ) revealed.

The COVID-19 Combating Fraud Task Force (CFETF) was established in 2021 to combat what is considered large-scale fraud, taking advantage of generous government loans and financial assistance during the pandemic .

According to the CFETF annual report released yesterday, more than 3,500 defendants have now been charged with federal crimes and more than 400 settlements and civil judgments have been entered.

Some of the most egregious examples of fraud prosecuted by U.S. attorneys over the past year include:

  • THE sentencing to five years in prison for the ringleader of a $6.5 million scheme to submit fraudulent applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) and unemployment benefits from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • A business owner who pleaded guilty for fraudulently receiving more than $16.5 million in COVID relief funds from the Small Business Administration (SBA)
  • Charges laid against more than 50 people for their role in a $250 million project to operate a federally funded child nutrition program
  • THE sentencing to eight and a half years in federal prison for a man who fraudulently obtained more than $7 million in PPP funds

However, despite its successes, the CFETF warned that it was battling a lack of resources and statutes of limitations to pursue more COVID-related fraudsters.

“The CFETF and its member agencies have ongoing investigations into hundreds of identity thieves, transnational fraud and money laundering rings, individual high-dollar fraudsters, and the companies that facilitated these crimes » he argued in the report.

“If we fail to provide the necessary data from the PRAC (Pandemic Response Accountability Committee) to the CFETF agencies or neglect to extend the statute of limitations, our agents and prosecutors will not be able to complete the job – losing the opportunity to recover hundreds of millions. dollars in proceeds of fraud and exposing our citizens and government institutions to the risk of future criminal victimization.

This is why several senators introduced new legislation – the Fraud Prevention and Recovery Act – modeled after White House proposals to continue cracking down on COVID-19-related fraud.

Learn more about COVID-19 fraud: #COVID19 fuels more online fraud

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