Michael E. Horowitz, Chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), issued the following statement to recognize International Fraud Awareness Week and the commitment of the PRAC to fighting pandemic fraud:
“This week is a reminder of what is at stake in our challenge of protecting historic amounts of emergency relief money—the public’s trust. Any amount of pandemic relief money diverted to the pockets of fraudsters means less money available to Americans in need, deserving small businesses, and health care providers. The PRAC and our Inspector General partners are committed to tracking every dollar so the public knows how their money was spent. In cases where we find misused or stolen funds, we are holding people accountable and recovering money for the taxpayer.”
“Pandemic relief funding was an irresistible target for fraudsters due to the sheer amount of money and weak internal controls that allowed access by bad actors. At the PRAC, we are investigating fraud and sharing what we’ve learned to ensure that theft of taxpayer dollars on this scale never happens again. Our oversight work identifies the importance of effective internal controls, how fraudsters bypassed controls in certain pandemic programs, and recommends how agencies can strengthen those controls in future emergencies. Our Fraud Task Force partners have vigorously pursued fraud cases, resulting in hundreds of criminal convictions, lengthy jail sentences for wrongdoers, and the recovery of more than $1 billion,” Horowitz said. “We also obtained a conviction in the first Task Force case that went to trial – and this is only the beginning. We appreciate the great work of the oversight and law enforcement communities who continue to demonstrate their commitment to protecting the public by rooting out fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of pandemic relief programs.”
The PRAC Fraud Task Force comprises 50 agents from 15 federal Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs) who volunteer to pursue investigations into COVID-19 small business relief and unemployment insurance programs. The Task Force taps into criminal investigators and analysts from across the OIG community to help handle pandemic fraud cases. With investigative support from the PRAC’s Pandemic Analytics Center of Excellence (PACE), the Task Force uses data intelligence to focus resources where they are needed most while working closely with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service, and other federal law enforcement agencies.
- See how the Department of Justice and PRAC partners work together to find and charge pandemic fraudsters in our biggest fraud cases.
- The PRAC’s Fraud Task Force uses data intelligence from the PACE to fight pandemic relief fraud. Watch the video to learn how the PACE is changing the way watchdogs identify potential wrongdoing in the data.
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.”
If you have additional questions, please contact Lisa Reijula at firstname.lastname@example.org.