Aug 7, 2020

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio and Special Inspector General Announce Crackdown on COVID-19 Relief Fund Fraud

Companies and individuals that have received funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, and those that receive federal aid in conjunction with COVID-19 treatment, must be prepared for more scrutiny than ever before. In line with other efforts by government watchdogs nationwide, United States Attorney Justin Herdman (Northern District of Ohio) and Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery Brian D. Miller announced a partnership to curb fraud, waste, and abuse related to the CARES Act. The partnership’s objective is to provide a coordinated response to CARES Act funding fraud, with an emphasis on organized criminal activity, as well as criminal and civil fraud affecting federal money, vulnerable victims, and repeat offenders.

“This partnership will help our office move quickly to identify and prosecute scammers and fraudsters attempting to use this pandemic to exploit others,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman. Special Inspector General Miller added that the collaboration will recover money for taxpayers by bringing to justice those who steal CARES Act money. The partnership also calls for the creation of streamlined legal processes, including grand jury subpoenas and court orders, subpoenas, and civil investigative demands to accelerate the investigations.

The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that U.S. consumers have already lost more than $77 million in fraud schemes related to the pandemic. Consequently, law enforcement and regulatory authorities have increased efforts to crack down on COVID-19 fraud schemes, including some high-profile arrests in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. In this environment, the creation of the joint task force in Ohio signals that similar investigations and prosecutions are forthcoming.

If you or your business have received funding related to COVID-19, it is imperative to have expert representation at every stage of an investigation. The team of former federal prosecutors and agents at Flannery Georgalis was built to help individuals and companies navigate through these difficult, high-stakes matters.