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Fighting COVID-19 Fraud

The Inspectors General (IG) community is committed to holding those who defraud the American public accountable. Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) and their investigators have been central in bringing charges against 250 of the 474 who allegedly defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, and Unemployment Insurance.

Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) provided an update on the nationwide fight against these bad actors. According to DOJ, these cases reflect how important reach, coordination, and expertise are to enforcement efforts against COVID-19 related fraud.

474 people have been charged with trying to steal more than $569 million intended to provide relief to Americans during the pandemic.

The OIG investigations highlight the teamwork across federal agencies. For example:

  • The Small Business Administration OIG (SBA) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) OIG partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation in an investigation that resulted in charges against four men who had submitted fraudulent loan applications totaling $21.9 million. The men had used the money to purchase luxury homes, diamonds, designer handbags, and cryptocurrency.
  • The Department of Labor OIG, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) OIG, and Social Security Administration OIG coordinated an investigation that led to charging a woman who had fraudulently obtained unemployment benefits using a federal prisoner’s identity. She had used the funds to pay for plastic surgery, a trip to Florida, shoes, and cosmetics. 
  • SBA OIG, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation OIG, FHFA OIG, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and DHS OIG partnered in an investigation that resulted in charges against seven individuals across two states. These individuals had allegedly submitted eighty fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans totaling $16 million

As the PRAC’s Chair, Michael Horowitz, testified to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in a March 25 hearing on small business loan fraud: “Those who engage in fraud and other wrongdoing in connection with pandemic-related programs will be held accountable.”

Protecting the public from fraud: alerts and tips

OIGs and federal agencies issue fraud alerts and provide tips to avoid scams on their websites. Find unemployment insurance fraud alerts from the Department of Labor and information about COVID-19 scams from the Department of Health and Human Services
If you believe you have witnessed or experienced fraud related to pandemic-related funding, you can submit a complaint to our hotline.
To learn more about OIGs’ investigations, audits, and reports related to the pandemic response, visit the Oversight section of our website.  

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