Anyone who is under investigation for COVID-19 fraud or has concerns about possible COVID-19 fraud-related charges should know that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute fraud cases related to pandemic relief. Indeed, according to a recent press release, the DOJ has appointed a Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement who will be tasked with leading “the department’s criminal and civil enforcement efforts to combat COVID-19 related fraud, along with the latest results of criminal and civil enforcement actions that include alleged fraud related to over $8 billion in pandemic relief.” The named Director is Associate Deputy Attorney General Kevin Chambers.
What else should you know about the Justice Department’s plans for COVID-19 fraud enforcement? Our Dallas federal fraud defense attorneys can tell you more about the recent press release and what the details could mean for future federal fraud investigations.
Expanding Efforts to Investigate and Prosecute Pandemic Fraud
As the press release explains, as of March 2022, the DOJ has thus far brought criminal charges against more than 1,000 defendants for pandemic-related fraud. Collectively, those defendants are accused of fraud resulting in losses of more than $1.1 billion. In addition, the DOJ has seized more than $1 billion in proceeds from fraudulent use of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, and it has conducted more than 240 civil investigations pertaining to pandemic relief misconduct. With the appointment of a Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, the DOJ plans to continue taking both criminal and civil actions to address and prevent pandemic-related fraud.
According to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, “the Justice Department remains committed to using every available federal tool—including criminal, civil, and administrative actions—to combat and prevent COVID-19 related fraud.” Garland explained that the DOJ “will continue to hold accountable those who seek to exploit the pandemic for personal gain, to protect vulnerable populations, and to safeguard the integrity of taxpayer-funded programs.”
Future Investigations Into COVID-19 Fraud
In his new role as Director for COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, Chambers reported that the Department of Justice is “receiving an extraordinary amount of data from our state workforce agency partners,” which “holds the key to identifying and prosecuting certain types of fraud, including unemployment insurance fraud.” The DOJ plans to expand current efforts to gather and review data, and to conduct investigations, in order to bring both criminal and civil enforcement actions. Chambers also plans to establish Strike Teams, which will target particular entities. Chambers will continue to focus on various types of fraud related to pandemic relief, including but not limited to fraud involving the following:
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP);
Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program;
Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs; and
Health care fraud related to COVID-19.
The DOJ will continue to partner with various federal and state partners, including the Justice Department’s Fraud Section and its Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and many others.
Contact Our Dallas Federal Fraud Defense Lawyers Today
Whether you are under investigation for a federal fraud offense or you are facing charges, one of our experienced federal fraud defense attorneys in Dallas can assist you. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC to get started on your defense.