Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020 provided relief for millions of Americans who suffered unemployment in the beginning of the pandemic – but not everyone filed lawfully for aid.
To fight an increasing amount of unemployment insurance fraud during the pandemic, the Eastern District of California, located in Sacramento but with a courthouse in Fresno, has been allocated funds to hire an assistant U.S. Attorney for a one-year term. The assistant U.S. Attorney has not yet been hired.
The assistant U.S. Attorney will focus on prosecuting cases involving schemes to unlawfully obtain unemployment insurance benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, which allocated $270 billion for supplemental federal unemployment insurance benefits.
Examples of unemployment insurance fraud include using others’ names or employers to receive benefits, stealing financial relief from those who need it.
“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.”
CARES Act allocated $270 billion for supplemental federal unemployment insurance, in addition to $44 billion in federal disaster relief funds used to provide supplemental unemployment insurance benefits to eligible claimants.
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.