SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Eastern District of California has been allocated funding to hire an Assistant U.S. Attorney for a one-year term, who will focus on prosecuting cases involving schemes to unlawfully obtain unemployment insurance benefits and related offenses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced today.
The CARES Act allocated $270 billion for supplemental federal unemployment insurance benefits. Additionally, President Donald J. Trump directed that $44 billion in federal disaster relief funds be used to provide supplemental unemployment insurance benefits to eligible claimants. The substantial increase in funding for unemployment insurance benefits unfortunately spurred a dramatic spike in unemployment insurance fraud across the country, resulting in the theft of federal funds intended to help those struggling with unemployment during the current pandemic and economic crisis.
“Initial indications are that the level of fraud in California will involve thousands of thieves and hundreds of millions of dollars of stolen taxpayer money,” U.S. Attorney Scott said. “These funds are intended to help workers struggling in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, but the fraud schemes deplete the fund and cheat the very workers the funds are intended to protect. With our law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate and stop fraud schemes like this that harm California workers.”
The U.S. Department of Justice, in close coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor and other federal agencies, created the U.S. Department of Justice National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force. This task force is charged with investigating numerous CARES Act fraud schemes targeting the unemployment insurance programs of state workforce agencies and will work closely with United States Attorneys’ Offices to prosecute those individuals who have fraudulently diverted these funds from those struggling with unemployment.
The Department encourages the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline by phone at (1-866-720-5721) or via an online reporting form available at www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/webform/ncdf-disaster- complaint-form.