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April 26, 2024

COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force Releases Report on Pandemic-Related Fraud and Requests Additional Legislative Support

On April 9, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force (CFETF) released a report detailing the results of its investigation and prosecution of fraud against the COVID-19 pandemic relief programs. With over 3,500 defendants prosecuted in criminal cases, numerous civil enforcement actions, and financial seizures exceeding$1.4 billion, the CFETF’s work reflects DOJ’s determined response to pandemic-related fraud. However, despite these achievements, the report calls for additional legislative support to further strengthen anti-fraud efforts. In a plea to lawmakers, the CFETF echoes recent legislative proposals by calling for increased funding and extended statutes of limitations for pandemic-related fraud.

Notably, the White House and bipartisan groups of senators have proposed comprehensive anti-fraud legislation that, if enacted, would further support the CFETF’s work. On April 9, 2024, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a proposal that broadly mirrors proposals outlined in the White House’s 2025 budget. Among its provisions, the proposed legislation would allocate $300 million to triple the number of COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force teams, increase the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA) cap to $1 million, and provide $250 million to empower the Small Business Administration and Department of Labor Offices of Inspectors General. Another bill proposed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID) seeks to extend the statute of limitations for pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) fraud from 5 years to 10 years. These legislative endeavors reflect a concerted effort to equip investigative agencies with the resources and legal frameworks to address pandemic-related fraud, and make clear that enforcement related to such fraud is ongoing.

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