Department of Justice Uncovers More Than $8 Billion in Federal COVID-19 Aid Fraud

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The nation’s top law enforcement agency said federal COVID-19 aid fraud losses total more than $8 billion on Thursday.  

The agency’s answer to the fraud? The Hill reported the government’s answer was to appoint a new director to handle coronavirus fraud enforcement exclusively.

Kevin Chambers is that man. Chambers started with the Justice Department as an associate deputy attorney. Now the agency said he’ll “focus on large-scale criminal enterprises and foreign actors who sought to profit at the expense of the American people.”

Key Points

  • Feds get 1,000 defendants so far with alleged losses exceeding $1.1 billion, seized more than $1 billion
  • Agency has already recovered $1 billion 
  • DOJ launched civil investigations into more than 1,800 individuals

Chambers’ Mission To Get Back COVID-19 Aid Money

On Tuesday, Chambers elaborated on his new mission with the Justice Department. He also expressed his desire to recover the money.

“I’m looking forward to building on that work and redoubling our efforts to identify pandemic fraud, to charge and prosecute those individuals responsible for it, and, whenever possible, to recover funds stolen from the American people,” Chambers said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, President Biden took on the issue in his State of the Union address. The nation’s chief executive vowed to go after “the criminals who stole billions in relief money meant for small businesses and millions of Americans.”

Chambers Going After COVID-19 Aid Fraudsters

The announcement said a Department of Justice priority would be to set up strike force teams.

Those teams will “use state-of-the-art data analytics tools to connect the dots on identity theft and other complex fraud schemes committed across state lines or transnationally.”

Two years of Congressional aid has sent almost $6 trillion of taxpayer funds into the economy. Those funds helped families and businesses. Funds homed in on health care businesses during that time. With all that money going out, COVID-19 aid fraud was a likelihood.

So far, the federal agency has gone after more than 1,000 defendants for fraud. Those alleged fraudsters reportedly took the government for $1.1 billion. In return, government officials have recovered more than $1 billion.  

The group has started civil investigations into more than 1,800 individuals and entities for alleged fraud connected with more than $6 billion in loans.

Feds Already Looked At Hundreds For COVID-19 Fraud

The feds opened up cases involving sports cars, jewelry, and home improvements. Several obtained loans went to fake companies. One federal complaint involved a Pokemon card.

The Justice Department looked around and charged hundreds for their schemes. Fraudsters targeted the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, unemployment insurance programs, and COVID-19 health care fraud enforcement.

Other cases took on identity theft and unemployment insurance fraud. The feds say violent street gangs and prison inmates took advantage of the COVID-19 aid funds