Posted August 24, 2023
The Justice Department announced Wednesday the results of a coordinated, nationwide enforcement action to combat coronavirus aid fraud, including 718 enforcement actions and over $836 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud.
The coordinated law enforcement action occurred over three months from May through July 2023.
In 2020, Congress adopted a series of coronavirus aid packages totaling approximately $5 trillion.
More than 50 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, including the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Strike Forces, the Justice Department’s Criminal and Civil Divisions, and more than a dozen law enforcement and OIG partners worked together to conduct the sweep, according to the department.
“I applaud the hard work of our prosecutors around the country,” Acting Director of COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement, Michael C. Galdo said “However, this announcement is not a victory lap. Our mission is not complete. We know from our investigative partners that identifying those who committed pandemic relief fraud and recovering stolen funds is difficult work. But the Justice Department, including our strike forces, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the Criminal and Civil Divisions, is committed to using our criminal, civil, and forfeiture tools to hold these fraudsters accountable.”
Criminal charges resulted in 371 defendants, of which, 119 defendants pleaded guilty or convicted at trial with over $57 million in court-ordered restitution imposed. A total of 117 civil matters occurred during the sweep, with over $10.4 million in judgments. Secured forfeiture from prosecutors and law enforcement totaled over $231.4 million.
The cases had 63 of the defendants alleged connections to violent crime, including violent gang members also accused of using pandemic funds to pay for a murder for hire, Galdo said.
“The Justice Department has now seized over $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that criminals had stolen and charged over 3,000 defendants with crimes in federal districts across the country,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “This latest action, involving over 300 defendants and over $830 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud, should send a clear message: the COVID-19 public health emergency may have ended, but the Justice Department’s work to identify and prosecute those who stole pandemic relief funds is far from over.”
View the Justice Department’s full release, here.