COVID Fraud Lawyer & PPP Fraud Whistleblower Attorney
The Department of Justice has increased its efforts to combat COVID-19 related fraud, including schemes that have targeted the following:
- Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”);
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (“EIDL”) Program; and
- Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) Programs.
If you are aware of individuals or companies that have illegally benefited from these programs, please call Covid fraud lawyer and PPP fraud attorney Stephen Teller. Steve has helped whistleblowers expose millions of dollars in fraudulent activities against the United States, and secured significant compensation for the whistleblowers for their courageous efforts.
What You Should Know About Exposing Covid Fraud and PPP Fraud
If you know of fraud, you should know that:
- In meritorious cases, I represent whistleblowers on a “No recovery, no fee” or contingency fee basis. This means that if the case is not successful for you, you do not owe me any fees.
- I advance all litigation costs on behalf of a whistleblower client.
- I offer a free, confidential consultation so that you can understand your options for exposing Covid fraud.
- Whistleblowers are generally entitled to 15%-25% of the amount recovered by the federal government. This can amount to millions in large-scale frauds.
- Whistleblowers are protected by law against retaliation, such as being fired. If a company takes retaliation against any employee (such as being fired, demoted, or subjected to other significant adverse job consequences), I am available to represent whistleblowers in a separate cause of action against the employer. I have well over 20 years’ employment law experience, and am highly skilled at obtaining compensation if you have suffered retaliation.
The Federal Government Has Announced a Crackdown on Covid and PPP Fraud
Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division issued a staunch warning to fraudsters, stating: ”To anyone thinking of using the global pandemic as an opportunity to scam and steal from hardworking Americans, my advice is simple – don’t…No matter where you are or who you are, I will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.” The Department is now making good on this warning, pursuing unethical individuals and businesses who have stolen billions of dollars in COVID relief.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act (“FCA”), is the government’s primary tool to redress false claims for federal funds, including fraudulently-obtained COVID relief. Under the FCA, private citizens with knowledge of COVID-19 pandemic fraud can bring lawsuits (called “qui tam” actions) on behalf of the United States government and share in any recovery (Typically, 15% – 25% of the collected proceeds). Due to the prevalence and extent of COVID fraud, awards can be substantial, often reaching into the millions of dollars.
If you are aware of COVID schemes aimed at defrauding the government, I encourage you to call my office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. As an experienced COVID and PPP fraud attorney, I can explain your options for exposing dishonest conduct and filing a False Claims Act Lawsuit.
How Much Does an Experienced COVID Fraud Attorney Cost?
At Teller Law, I usually represent whistleblowers on a contingency fee basis, meaning I am only entitled to a fee if compensation is recovered. I also advance litigation expenses for qui tam lawsuits, so my clients do not have to worry about coming out of pocket for upfront expenses and court filing fees.
What is COVID Relief Fraud?
On March 27, 2020, Congress signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act,  legislation designed to provide over $2 trillion of relief to workers, families, small businesses, industry sectors, and other levels of the government economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the CARES Act, the government was made responsible for monitoring and oversight of the receipt, disbursement, and use of Coronavirus Relief Fund payments. Despite this duty, however, there has been rampant fraud and abuse, leading to the theft of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Experts say that as much as $80 billion (out of $800 billion) was fraudulently acquired through the Paycheck Protection Program “PPP”), which is on top of the up to $400 billion that is believed to have been fraudulently obtained through the COVID unemployment relief program.
How Do Fraudsters Commit COVID Relief Fraud?
Unemployment Insurance Fraud
The criminal methodology utilized to fraudulently procure unemployment relief funds from the government varies depending on the program. For example, COVID unemployment relief fraud was largely carried out by individuals or organized crime groups using stolen identities to claim jobless benefits of up to $30,000 per identity.
Paycheck Protection Program Fraud
PPP Fraud has been facilitated much differently – and it was often more lucrative than UI schemes. Under the PPP program, banks and other financial institutions were allowed to distribute government-backed loans to businesses. Such loans were designed to cover certain business expenses, such as employee payroll.
If the proceeds were used for qualifying business expenses, the loans could be entirely forgiven. Unfortunately, lenders did little to verify applications, allowing millions of borrowers to inflate employment numbers, submit fraudulent paperwork, or create false businesses to illegally obtain funds.
Other Examples of COVID-19 Fraud Against the Government
The following are a few additional examples of the types of COVID-19 relief fraud that the government, as well as state and federal law enforcement, have been investigating:
- COVID-19 vaccine fraud schemes;
- Unsolicited healthcare fraud schemes through emails, phone calls, or in-person contact;
- Unsolicited telephone calls and emails from individuals claiming to be affiliated with the IRS;
- S. Treasury check schemes;
- Social media scams fraudulently seeking donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations and COVID-19 relief programs;
- Telephone calls from individuals posing as government officials or payment facilitators promising CARES Act stimulus payments and asking for personal identifying information (“PPI”);
- Fake websites requesting PPI, including banking information, to deposit federal funding; and
- Efforts to divert payments, such as last-minute changes to banking information, through fake emails.
How Does a COVID Fraud Whistleblower Lawsuit Work?
Under the False Claims Act, whistleblowers (also referred to as “relators”) can file civil lawsuits to hold persons committing fraud against the government accountable and assist in the recovery of substantial assets. The government then has the option to intervene and take over responsibility for investigating and prosecuting the accused.
The lawsuit is filed confidentially, “under seal” and the company or individual can remain ignorant of it while the government investigates for a substantial period of time. Ultimately the fraudster will find out who filed the case, but at that point the whistleblower has had time to move on. Retaliation for filing a Qui Tam case is illegal.
Whistleblowers whose cases are successful are entitled to a portion of the amount recovered, which varies depending on how much the individual contributed to the lawsuit. For example, if a citizen files a civil claim and the government immediately intervenes in the case, the relator may be entitled to a smaller share, 15% to 20% is common. However, if the government does not intervene in the case, the individual may recover up to 25%, as they expended more effort and time seeking justice.
Can I Get a Reward for Exposing COVID Fraud?
Yes. Under the False Claims Act, a whistleblower is entitled to a reward of between 15% and 25% of the recovered proceeds for confidentially reporting COVID 19 fraud resulting in economic loss to the government.
The Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General estimates that the federal government distributed more than $80 billion in potentially fraudulent loans, meaning that whistleblowers could stand to recover millions or even billions of dollars in rewards for reporting misconduct.
Call Covid Fraud Lawyer Stephen Teller for a Free Consultation
Complicated and covert schemes are difficult to uncover, and the government is ultimately reliant on private individuals using the False Claims Act to report fraudulent behavior. If you have knowledge of a party or business that has defrauded the United States government, I invite you to call my office at 206-324-8969 to schedule a free consultation with experienced Seattle COVID fraud attorney Stephen Teller.
 Justice Department Takes Action Against COVID-19 Fraud, Department of Justice, Justice Department Takes Action Against COVID-19 Fraud | OPA | Department of Justice.
 CARES Act, Office of Inspector General, https://oig.treasury.gov/cares-act.
 ‘Biggest fraud in a generation’” The looting of the Covid relief plan known as PPP, ‘Biggest fraud in a generation’: The looting of the Covid relief program known as PPP (nbcnews.com)
 Combating COVID-19 Fraud, The United States Department of Justice, https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus/combatingfraud.
 Using the False Claims Act to Combat COVID-19 Fraud, Reuters, Using the False Claims Act to combat COVID-19 fraud | Reuters.