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In May 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Justice Department in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The task force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts.

The Justice Department’s COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force (CFETF) just released its 2024 report detailing the efforts of the task force and its member agencies in response to widespread fraud involving many COVID-19 relief programs targeted by fraudsters and other criminals who sought to exploit the government’s relief efforts for their personal gain.

To date, the efforts of the task force’s member agencies has led to criminal charges against more than 3,500 defendants for losses of over $2 billion, civil enforcement actions resulting in more than 400 civil settlements and judgments of over $100 million, and over $1.4 billion seized or forfeited.

In addition to the efforts noted above, the CFETF has established five strike forces to focus on the most complex and harmful pandemic fraud – often committed by overseas, organized, or violent actors. Those strike forces, located in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country including the Districts of Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado, the Southern District of Florida, and a joint task force co-located in the Eastern and Central Districts of California, are responsible for indicting 250 defendants to date, including gang members, inveterate fraudsters, and overseas rings committing a myriad of cyber-enabled fraud against our citizens and government programs.

The Eastern and Central Districts of California joint COVID Fraud Strike Force was formed in August 2022. As strike force district, the Eastern and Central Districts of California oversee agents, analysts, and AUSAs to bring the most impactful criminal pandemic fraud cases, often involving multiple CARES Act programs, foreign actors, violent perpetrators, or large loss amounts.

Since the inception of the Strike Force, the Eastern District of California has criminally charged 17 cases with associated actual losses of over $20 million.

The Central District of California has joined with FBI, IRS CI, SBA-OIG, HHSOIG, DOL-OIG, TIGTA, USSS, and several local law enforcement agencies to initiate 37 criminal cases involving 72 individuals suspected of committing PPP, EIDL, UI, and ERC fraud, with losses identified of more than approximately $126 million. Approximately 15 of the 35 cases involve fraudulent UI claims with collective losses of more than $53 million. CDCA’s cases have covered a broad spectrum of criminal activity in its diverse population with a view

CFETF members also established the National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force, a first-of-its-kind task force that developed a data sharing and lead development process within OCDETF’s International Organized Crime Intelligence Operation Center (IOC-2), using data from pandemic relief programs. The NUIFTF has used that process to disseminate over 100 leads and intelligence associated with over $3 billion in suspected pandemic fraud.

While this report highlights these accomplishments, much work remains in the fight against COVID-19 fraud. CFETF members have seen their budgets cut, straining resources to develop investigations and prosecute offenders. The first years of the pandemic fraud response were dedicated to coordination, data collection, and the establishment of interagency data sharing to generate actionable leads.