On March 20, 2020, United States Attorney General William P. Barr announced the Department of Justice (DOJ) will aggressively pursue and prosecute individuals and companies perpetrating fraudulent schemes related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. All U.S. attorneys have been directed to prioritize investigations and prosecutions of fraud involving coronavirus (COVID-19) and to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator. The public has also been urged to come forward and report any type of fraud related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The DOJ has already uncovered several coronavirus (COVID-19) scams and recently taken action against the wrongdoers. According to allegations in a civil complaint the government filed in federal court, operators of a website were peddling a fake coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine and asking for consumers’ credit card information. A United States district judge issued a temporary restraining order that required the website be blocked from public access.
The recent passage of a $2 trillion government stimulus package will inject much-needed money into the economy. While many Americans rightfully see this money as providing a helping hand during a time of crisis, criminals and fraudsters will use it as an opportunity to take advantage of the global pandemic and line their own pockets.
In addition to getting caught trying to sell fake cures for coronavirus (COVID-19), scammers have also been identified sending phishing emails posing as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Others have attempted to play upon the public’s emotions by collecting money for fraudulent entities posing as charities.
Other areas of fraud and corruption are likely to be exposed in the near future including, but not limited to, fraudulently billing to Medicare and Medicaid for tests and procedures for the treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19), price gouging Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and falsifying eligibility to receive federal funds under the stimulus.
While the DOJ is doing its part in the battle against coronavirus (COVID-19) fraud, all citizens have also been asked to do their part to come forward and report pandemic-driven fraud.
Whistleblowers will be essential in the investigation and prosecution of individuals and companies that seek to profit off the fears and uncertainties of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The False Claims Act provides protections to whistleblowers who come forward with information about this type of fraud committed against the government.
If you have information about a coronavirus (COVID-19) fraud scheme, our attorneys may be able to help you file a whistleblower case. You may be entitled to a share of the amount recovered.
Baron & Budd’s experienced whistleblower representation team has helped numerous whistleblowers achieve a successful resolution in a wide variety of cases under state and federal law. Please call (866) 401-5971 if you want to report coronavirus (COVID-19) fraud.