President Biden to Declare New Steps to Fight Criminal Scam and Identity Theft in Pandemic Relief Plans! Fact Check!

As part of a continuing Administration-wide attempt to block, deter, and punish serious criminal syndicates’ identity theft and other types of pandemic fraud, the President will address the following in tonight’s State of the Union:

The Department of Justice Will name a Chief Prosecutor to Focus on the Most Heinous Forms of Pandemic Fraud, Particularly Identity Theft by Criminal Syndicates

The DOJ COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force will strengthen it has already robust attempts by assigning a Chief Prosecutor to lead crews of specialized prosecution and agents tasked with concentrating on big objectives of pandemic theft, such as those committing large-scale theft, such as foreign-based performers.

Additionally, these strike force team members will leverage cutting-edge data analytics tools to connect the dots on identity fraud and other sophisticated fraud schemes perpetrated across state lines or internationally, as well as investigate high-profile cases of criminal fraud in programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Increased resources and harsher penalties for severe pandemic cheating in areas such as PPP loans and unemployment insurance

The President will urge Congress to appropriate the funds necessary to expand prosecutions by the DOJ Task Force.

Preventing Identity Fraud in Public Benefits Programs Executive Order

In the coming weeks, the President will issue a new Executive Order containing comprehensive government-wide guidelines to prevent and detect identity theft, including public benefits while safeguarding individuals’ privacy and civil rights and minimizing bias that results in disproportionate outcomes. Additionally, the EO will direct new activities to assist victims of identity fraud.

Strengthening Current Efforts to Combat COVID-19 Fraud and Severe Identity Theft of Public Benefits

The dramatic outpouring of epidemic relief in 2020 resulted in the growth of foreign and domestic criminal syndicates defrauding unemployment insurance and other benefit programs to defraud American taxpayers of billions of dollars that should have gone to deserving small businesses jobless workers.

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Between 2019 and 2020, the Federal Trade Commission estimated a 3000% rise in identity theft claims involving public benefits. The Administration has already taken substantial steps to address this inherited fraud.

COVID-19 Interagency Fraud Enforcement Task Force

In May 2021, the President commended Attorney General Merrick B. Garland for establishing the COVID-19 team to prosecute and recover lost funds from domestic and foreign criminals misusing pandemic relief programs.

The Task Force, organized and led by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, brings together approximately 30 agencies that administer and oversee epidemic relief funding, including the Departments of Justice, Labor, and the Treasury, as well as the Small Business Administration, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).

Thus far, Task Force members have filed over 1,000 criminal charges and initiated over 200 civil investigations involving over 1800 individuals and businesses, totaling billions of dollars in potential fraud.

The Task Force will name a Chief Prosecutor to oversee investigations and prosecutions involving identity theft and other egregious patterns of pandemic fraud.

Identity Theft Prevention Initiative with Public Benefits

On May 17, 2021, President Biden directed the ARP Coordinator and Office of Management and Budget to take government-wide steps to stop people from defrauding public benefit programs, in collaboration with the National Security Council (NSC), Inspectors General, and the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO).

This Initiative, in collaboration with the National Security Council’s cybersecurity team, will make recommendations to the entire government as part of the President’s upcoming Executive Order on preventing and detecting identity theft involving public benefits while protecting individuals’ privacy and civil liberties and avoiding the bias that results in disparate outcomes.

Additionally, the Executive Order will order additional efforts to assist victims of identity fraud.

Restored Mutual Respect and Transparency with the Oversight Community

This Administration has made a concerted effort to rebuild trust and organization with the oversight area.

The White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator faces weekly with the PRAC, biweekly with GAO leadership, and has convened over 20 “Gold Standard” sessions with agency officials to discuss integrity measures with their Inspector General and PRAC leadership before program launch.

This Administration has collaborated with the oversight community to implement numerous recommendations, involving strengthening controls for small company loan programs and directing multi-state data sharing to detect and combat unemployment insurance fraud while screening a record number of benefits payments across the government for potential fraud.

Additionally, the White House Infrastructure Coordinator met with all Inspectors General whose jurisdictions are impacted by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and pledged to collaborate closely on fraud prevention initiatives.