Fraud basics

Caring for the CARES Act: What comes next?

SIGPR, the U.S. office mandated to audit and investigate fraud and abuse of the $2 trillion COVID-19 aid package known as the CARES Act, is now ready to take on the task at hand. It could be a busy few years ahead.

After months of preparation, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) is starting to turn its investigative compass to address the most egregious fraud cases involving the CARES Act — the unprecedented $2 trillion economic aid package created to support Americans and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since its creation last year, SIGPR, the independent federal law enforcement agency charged with the oversight of the U.S. government’s implementation of the CARES Act, has been assembling attorneys, investigators, analysts and forensic accountants tasked with investigating fraud, waste and abuse. And it has only just begun to carry out its mandate to monitor the receipt and allocation of funds in the CARES Act. (See sidebar: CARES Act: an explainer.)

As of the fourth quarter 2020, the agency had referred 69 leads to law enforcement partners, initiated five new preliminary investigations and vetted 27 complaints, according to SIGPR’s last quarterly report to Congress. (See Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2020)

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the number of cases it will likely take on in coming years. And with the U.S. Congress passing a $1.9 trillion rescue package in March, SIGPR’s and U.S. attorneys’ workloads could increase substantially. (See Cos. Should Keep A Close Watch On SIGPR Enforcement, by Mark Grider, James Treanor and Cheryl Risell, Law360, Feb. 10.)

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