In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden announced that he is appointing a new Chief Prosecutor to the DOJ’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
According to the White House, the Chief Prosecutor will lead teams of specialized prosecutors and agents focusing on major targets of pandemic fraud, such as those committing large-scale identity theft, including foreign-based actors.
These strike force teams will lead investigations and prosecutions on identity theft and other complex fraud schemes committed across state lines or transnationally, as well as investigate major cases of criminal fraud in programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Unemployment Insurance (UI).
The DOJ’s new Chief Prosecutor will be just one high-level official focusing on pandemic fraud. In December 2021, the Secret Service announced that it was appointing an assistant special agent in charge of pandemic fraud. The agency cited more than 900 ongoing criminal investigations.
The DOJ launched the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force in May 2021 to prosecute and recover stolen funds from domestic and international criminals exploiting pandemic relief programs. The Task Force includes nearly 30 agencies that administer and oversee pandemic relief funding, such as the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Treasury, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).
So far, members of the Task Force have charged over 1,000 criminal cases and opened over 200 civil investigations across 1800 individuals and entities, together involving billions of dollars in suspected fraud.