COVID-19 Fraud Whistleblower Lawyer
During the past few years of crisis, the US government has implemented sweeping relief programs, a series of grants and loans, as well as changes in existing regulatory policies in order to meet the needs of the moment. Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many of these new programs and policies made individuals and businesses eligible for grants and temporary financial relief.
Unfortunately, as with any disaster, bad actors claimed more than their fair share, diverting assistance from those who needed it most and defrauding taxpayer funds intended to provide relief. Whistleblowers are often the first and best line of defense when it comes to ensuring that government money goes directly where it should.
If you have information about someone who has acted to scam coronavirus relief funds or claim more than their share of government money, speak to a COVID-19 fraud lawyer today. Under federal and some state law, you may be eligible for up to 30% of the government’s total recoupment from a successful case.
COVID-19 Relief Funds and Grants
In 2020 and beyond, the federal government passed several reforms intended to provide assistance to the nation struggling with the spread of COVID-19. The main goals of these programs were to:
- Support individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic
- Treat patients and support healthcare professionals responding in real time to the risks of COVID-19
- Research and test vaccines, cures, and other medical breakthroughs related to COVID-19
- Provide a lifeline to the national economy
Several different methods of government spending were developed to support these goals and are at risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals. Examples of these relief funds and grants include:
- $2 trillion overall from the initial Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
- The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- $2 trillion overall from the 2021 American Rescue Plan
- $349 billion in emergency funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- The Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) from the Department of the Treasury
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Over $100 billion in vaccine distribution, COVID-19 testing, and public health initiatives
- Over $100 billion to provide personal protective equipment for hospitals, community healthcare centers, and testing sites
- Additional spending directed to Department of Defense healthcare such as TRICARE, Indian Health Service, and the VA
- An estimated $35 billion for the agricultural sector affected by COVID-19, including $23.5 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers who faced market disruptions, uncertain production costs, and reduced prices
- At least $11 billion provided through the CARES Act for the Defense Production Act for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, N95 respirators, and more
- Approximately $30.75 billion in education spending allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund, including the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, which was distributed through state subgrants.
COVID-19 fraud is when someone attempts to claim more government funding than they are legally eligible for. Whether via direct payments to individuals, grants from state legislatures to schools, contracts with Department of Defense manufacturers, loans to businesses, or grants to hospitals and healthcare centers, any of these governmental lifelines may have been taken advantage of without sufficient oversight during the pandemic.
If you have information about someone who acted to take advantage of these relief funds, do not wait. Speak up today, and contact the law firm of Tycko & Zavareei LLP. Coming forward is the right thing to do. It can help ensure that aid goes to those who need it most in the continuing crisis, save taxpayer funds that were spent in a time of need, and fight corruption.
Examples of COVID-19 Fraud
The Office of the Inspector General is already aware of many efforts to defraud government funds related to the COVID-19 response. The 2020 CARES Act also created the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) to “promote transparency and conduct and support oversight of covered funds and the Coronavirus response to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.”
Known examples of COVID-19 fraud may look like but are not limited to:
Loan Abuse and COVID-19
Many common COVID-19 fraud scams target small business owners or are perpetrated by business owners in order to claim more than their fair share of disaster or paycheck protection loans. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans were provided to give small businesses the resources to cover up to 8 weeks of payroll costs for their employees, including benefits. Additionally, the Paycheck Protection Program authorized up to $659 billion toward job retention, including covering certain independent contractors, non-profit organizations, Tribal businesses, veterans organizations, and those who are self-employed.
Just a few examples of reportable COVID-19 loan abuse include:
- Submitting false information to obtain COVID-relief loans, like PPP loans or economic injury disaster loans
- Claiming to have kept employees that were laid off in order to falsely keep grants or PPP loans
- Using COVID-19 relief loan money for unauthorized purposes, such as stock buy-backs
- Banks or lenders who knowingly made loans to ineligible businesses
- Failing to abide by the terms of emergency loans
If your employer laid you off after claiming a PPP loan or stopped providing certain benefits, they may have committed fraud. Speak to a COVID-19 fraud attorney today to discuss your concerns and understand what steps may be available to you.
During the medical crisis of the past few years, hospitals, doctors, and healthcare providers went above and beyond, often risking their own personal safety to provide care to many Americans. That is why healthcare providers or institutions that took advantage of the crisis are such a tragic circumstance. Examples of healthcare fraud tied to COVID-19 relief funds include:
- False billing specific to COVID-19 testing or treatments
- Hospitals that use COVID-19 specific funds to cover other costs or outstanding bills
- Selling substandard medical equipment to healthcare workers or using government funds to provide faulty personal protective equipment
- Receiving kickbacks or paid referrals to obtain government contracts to manufacture personal protective equipment
- False billing on telehealth appointments
- Marketing drugs or devices for unapproved use regarding COVID-19
- Submitting false insurance reimbursement claims regarding COVID-19 testing or treatments
- Cutting corners on manufacturing personal protective equipment
If you work in a hospital, doctor’s office, testing center, or another healthcare institution, you may have inside information about the way COVID-19 funds were spent and how patients and doctors were provided for during the coronavirus pandemic.
If something is not right, speak up today. A qualified attorney can advise you on what kind of proof is necessary to bring a case, what kind of payout may be possible, and the protections to which a whistleblower is entitled when reporting fraud.
Research Grant Fraud
During the push to develop COVID-19 vaccines, grant funding was more widely available than before to research breakthrough medical treatments. Examples of COVID-19 grant fund fraud include but are not limited to:
- Failing to use grant money for the purposes of researching COVID-19 vaccines and treatments
- Lying on grant applications
- Misreporting findings of studies
Contact a COVID-19 Fraud Attorney Today
COVID-19 fraud is a rapidly developing legal field as the pandemic evolves alongside us. However, due to existing laws such as the False Claims Act (FCA), whistleblowers who come forward and reveal previously unreported information which leads to the recovery of misappropriated government funds may be entitled to up to 30% of the total funds recovered. In cases of healthcare fraud, defense contractor fraud, and more, these awards can easily be in the hundreds of thousands or million dollar range.
If you have questions or if you are aware of wrongdoing, speak to a qualified COVID-19 fraud lawyer via our online case evaluation form. An initial consultation with an expert attorney at Tycko & Zavareei LLP is complimentary and confidential. Our team knows your rights as a whistleblower and will work to ensure justice is done.