| Welcome to Global Village Space

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

US charges 371 people with COVID-19-related fraud

Justice Department has now seized over $1.4 billion in illegally obtained COVID-19 relief funds, says top official

The US Justice Department said Wednesday that it has charged 371 people for offenses related to over $836 million in COVID-19 fraud.

In a statement which announced the launch of two new COVID-19 fraud strike forces, the agency said there were 718 law enforcement actions against COVID fraud, including criminal charges, civil charges, forfeitures, guilty pleas and sentencings.

Read more: Smile Classes in Japan Post-COVID: Embracing Positive Expressions

A total of 119 defendants pleaded guilty or were convicted, said the statement.

It added that over $57 million in court-ordered restitution was imposed and 117 civil matters occurred during the federal sweep, with over $10.4 million in judgments. Additionally, prosecutors worked with law enforcement to secure forfeiture of over $231.4 million.

“The Justice Department has now seized over $1.4 billion in COVID-19 relief funds that criminals had stolen and charged over 3,000 defendants with crimes in federal districts across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

“This latest action, involving over 300 defendants and over $830 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud, should send a clear message: the COVID-19 public health emergency may have ended, but the Justice Department’s work to identify and prosecute those who stole pandemic relief funds is far from over,” he said.

The two strike forces add to the three strike forces launched in September 2022 in California, Florida and Maryland.

Read more: Muslim charity CEO recognized for COVID-19 relief work attends royal coronation

The White House said the Justice Department’s announcement of two new COVID-19 fraud strike forces will enable it to further ramp up its efforts and urged Congress to act on President Joe Biden’s full proposal to triple such strike forces, invest more in fraud and identity-theft prevention efforts and double the statute of limitations on these crimes.

“As the President has said about those who defrauded the American people during the pandemic: ‘You can’t hide,’” said spokeswoman Karine Jean Pierre in a statement.