Covid-19 Fraud Across Us To Be Tackled By Coordinated Law Enforcement Action Nationwide
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Covid-19 Fraud Across Us To Be Tackled By Coordinated Law Enforcement Action Nationwide

By CIOReview | Friday, May 27, 2022

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a nationwide coordinated law enforcement action that recently led to criminal charges against 21 defendants in nine federal districts across the United States.

FREMONT, CA: The US Justice Department has undertaken a nationwide coordinated law enforcement action to combat health-care-related COVID-19 fraud, which has resulted in criminal charges being filed against 21 individuals in nine federal districts around the country. The defendants were involved in a variety of healthcare fraud schemes that took advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak. Over USD 149 million in bogus billings to government programs and theft from federally sponsored pandemic assistance programs are alleged to have resulted from the cases. From the alleged fraudulent schemes, the department seized approximately USD 8 million in cash. This recent enforcement action shows that an audit or probe may be imminent for health care organizations that exploited these government pandemic relief programs. To avoid criminal penalties, it is critical to ensure that compliance measures are in place.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March 2020, offered businesses emergency financial help in the form of forgiving loans to cover wages and other defined obligations. It also contained the Provider Relief Fund, which offered much-needed medical care to COVID-19 patients in the United States. The government promised from the start that it would take steps to prevent participants from abusing the CARES Act programs. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Justice Department has been focusing on COVID-19 health care fraud. The Justice Department's Criminal Division's Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. recently claimed that the "Department of Justice's Health Care Fraud Unit and our partners are determined to root out schemes that have abused the pandemic. Allegations of illicit kickbacks and bribes for COVID-19 laboratory tests, Medicare billing for supposed COVID-19 diagnostic testing, and disguising kickback payments through shell firms were among the new charges. Fraud in connection with identifying documents relating to COVID-19 immunization record cards was also charged.