Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts will be cracking down on fraud related to CARES Act spending, United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling announced this week.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston entered an agreement with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to investigate and prosecute fraud in the distribution of the massive relief package authorized by the coronavirus relief act, Lelling said in a media release. He said his office signed a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, with Special Inspector General Brian D. Miller of the SIGPR.

The MOU will allow the U.S. Attorney's Office and SIGPR to cooperate in investigating and prosecuting matters involving loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that a certain kind of criminal capitalizes on crises to take advantage of government programs,” said Lelling. “Since the outset of this pandemic, my office has worked with our law enforcement partners to disrupt fraudulent schemes targeting the government’s pandemic relief efforts."

Miller said he is looking forward to working with Lelling and his team. “Identifying fraud and preventing any waste or abuse of the money provided under the CARES Act is a top priority for both of our offices, and we are determined to bring those who attempt to steal from American taxpayers to justice," the special inspector general said.

The memorandum outlines four objectives: 1) to provide a coordinated response to CARES Act funding fraud, with an emphasis on organized criminal activity, as well as criminal and civil fraud affecting federal money, vulnerable victims, and fraud recidivists; 2) to speed up legal process, case intake, and prosecution of CARES Act-related fraud; 3) to link and associate isolated CARES Act-related complaints with larger schemes and related unlawful activity; and 4) to deter future CARES Act funding fraud by increasing awareness of successful criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions against individuals and companies involved in CARES-related financial fraud.

Prosecutors with the Criminal Division and the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will serve as liaisons to the partnership and the District of Massachusetts will provide staffing support for the joint investigations.

Lelling's office said Massachusetts residents who believe they are victims of fraud or other criminal activity related to the pandemic should contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at USAMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov or call 1-888-221-6023. Members of the public can also contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov.

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