October 25, 2021

Volume XI, Number 298

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October 22, 2021

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DOJ Forms COVID-19 Fraud Task Force

While COVID continues to lose its grip across America, its focus within the Department of Justice is just getting started. On Monday, the DOJ Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the formation of a COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Over the past year, the DOJ has observed specific upticks in consumer fraud, not to mention the misappropriation of federal dollars intended to support struggling individuals and businesses. Enter the COVID Task Force, which will comprise a wide-array of assets, including U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force and INTERPOL. To date, the DOJ has charged over 600 defendants across the country and the announcement of this Task Force likely means there are hundreds more on the horizon.

This begs the question: What areas will receive Task Force scrutiny? The DOJ prosecutions thus far shed some light. The DOJ has investigated and prosecuted issues related to fake vaccines, counterfeit N95 / PPE sales (especially to hospitals) and cases of inflated payrolls to obtain larger loans. The DOJ has also investigated cases involving the submission of identical loan applications in the names of multiple companies as well as the formation of shell companies to receive PPP and related loans. 

Companies and individuals that conducted business with hospitals, frontline workers, emergency responders and the federal and state governments themselves should be on high alert. As we have seen in the DOJ health care enforcement, the Task Force will likely leverage its diverse components to investigate misconduct related to relief funds, primarily through data analytics. But data often tells part of the story and is usually the first behind-the-scenes step, often followed by a subpoena or even the unannounced visit by federal agents. Individuals and businesses that find themselves on the receiving end of this Task Force are often at an extreme disadvantage and attorneys like those in Polsinelli’s Government Investigations group are exactly who you want to help tell the entire story. 

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 139
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About this Author

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As a shareholder in the Government Investigations practice, Brian Rafferty leverages a distinguished background serving as Chief of the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. In his more than ten years of experience as a federal prosecutor, Brian oversaw and managed some of the most high-profile and complex investigations in the Southern District of Georgia. Before his work as a federal prosecutor, Brian was a partner at white collar criminal litigation boutique in New York, where he represented individuals in government...

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When a client turns to William Ezzell, they can expect an attorney keenly focused on learning who they are and what they do. He is genuinely passionate about understanding the intricacies unique to each client’s business, and how they view the world from their perspective. William combines this passion with his diverse practice history to further a collective goal: the best possible outcome. As a member of the firm’s Government Investigations and White Collar Defense Group, William devotes the majority of his practice to representing companies and individuals faced with...

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