A worldwide pandemic does not stop criminals and fraudsters. In fact, it gives them another avenue to scam innocent people and the government. These criminals are taking advantage of this crisis in order to steal from taxpayers and they may even be putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk.
Coronavirus Fraud Schemes
The federal government has dedicated trillions of dollars to provide relief to our nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These federal funds are intended to provide medical care and economic relief to individuals and businesses across the country. These monies are vulnerable to attack by fraudsters who will use this economic stimulus as an opportunity to perpetrate various types of schemes.
So far, the Department of Justice has reported several types of schemes, including selling fake coronavirus cures or testing kits online, phishing emails posing as the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, soliciting donations to fraudulent charities, and medical providers fraudulently billing for tests and procedures related to COVID-19 patients.
Other coronavirus fraud schemes may include:
- Misrepresenting a business’s eligibility for federal loan assistance.
- Doctors writing prescriptions for medications that are said to cure COVID-19 for individuals who do not need it. This can be harmful for those who do not need the medication and can deprive others who do need it.
- Impersonating organizations, such as the Red Cross, and offering COVID-19 home tests door-to-door.
The federal government does not take these fraudulent activities lightly. United States Attorney General William P. Barr has directed federal prosecutors and agencies to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of individuals and companies committing fraud related to the coronavirus epidemic. The attorney general has also asked the public to report any schemes related to coronavirus fraud.
Whistleblowers and Reporting Coronavirus Fraud
The False Claims Act (FCA) covers fraud in all federal government procurement and spending. The qui tam provision of the FCA covers individuals who come forward with information about coronavirus fraud. Criminals have already devised ways to profit from the pandemic and the billions of federal taxpayer dollars allocated to the coronavirus response are already at risk.
Federal healthcare programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, help support some of the nation’s most at-risk individuals. Healthcare providers, companies, or other individuals who seek to exploit these government-funded healthcare programs can be liable under the FCA.
Also, some companies have been price gouging Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as face masks. These companies may face criminal charges and can be held liable under the FCA as well.
Individuals who have information about coronavirus-related fraud should consult with a whistleblower attorney about whistleblower rights and protections.
With over 30 years of experience in Qui Tam cases, the attorneys on Baron & Budd’s whistleblower representation team have represented some 70 clients in government fraud cases returning over $5.4 billion to federal and state agencies, with whistleblower recovery shares as high as 49%. They are ready to help if you have evidence of fraud involving coronavirus relief programs.
Please call (866) 401-5971 or complete our contact form if you would like more information. For more information, see What You Need to Know About Becoming a Whistleblower. Please understand that contacting us does not mean that you have established an attorney-client relationship with Baron & Budd, P.C.