Weeks after the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared, Congress passed a pair of massive bills—the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)—providing trillions of dollars in relief for health care and other businesses across the country. Like flies to honey, that massive pot of federal money attracted fraudsters and scamsters of all varieties. Going after those scamsters has emerged as a top priority for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
During last week’s State of the Union address, President Biden announced that he’s ordered the DOJ to appoint a chief prosecutor to track down and bring the fraudsters to justice. “We are going to go after the criminals who stole billions of relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans,” stated the president.
Cracking down on COVID-19 fraud isn’t a new policy. After a series of public warnings, the government began actual prosecutions last June, including under special takedowns targeting fraud against the Provider Relief Fund, Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, and other COVID-19 relief programs created by FFCRA and the CARES Act.