Michael E. Horowitz, Chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), issued a statement following the U.S. Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force Roundtable Meeting, where officials announced the results of a nationwide effort that included 718 enforcement actions for offenses related to over $836 million in alleged COVID-19 fraud:
“Agency decisions in the early months of the pandemic that prioritized speed over accuracy in delivery of relief funds led to brazen fraud and outright theft of millions of dollars. To protect taxpayer funds, the PRAC created a shared data analytics center that powers pandemic investigations across federal agencies. Our data analytics platform provides law enforcement agencies with critical data, sophisticated technical assistance, and tangible resources to help identify and investigate complex fraud schemes. The PRAC stands ready to support the OIGs and the broader law enforcement community in their pursuit of pandemic fraud and misuse of pandemic relief funds.”
The PRAC’s Fraud Task Force brings together 50 agents from more than a dozen member Offices of Inspectors General to investigate cases in programs with significant fraud, such as the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and the Paycheck Protection Program. This task force and other federal law enforcement agencies leverage the data scientists and resources of the PRAC’s Pandemic Analytics Center of Excellence to uncover patterns, anomalies, and red flags that point to potential fraud. These innovative, collaborative efforts have supported over 500 investigations into 6,000 subjects, with an estimated potential fraud loss of $500 million.
The PRAC was established by the CARES Act to promote transparency and support independent oversight of the funds provided by the CARES Act and other related emergency spending bills. In addition to its coordination and oversight responsibilities, the PRAC is tasked with supporting efforts to “prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement [and] mitigate major risks that cut across program and agency boundaries.”
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