The “good” thieves are able to abscond with tremendously valuable items while remaining undetected. They take care to cover their tracks, to make sure any witnesses are silenced, and to financially clean the ill-gotten goods as quickly as possible. In the COVID-19 era, there has been a heist of great value, but it has not gone undetected. Prosecutors have called the heist the largest fraud in U.S. history, with the thieves stealing hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money through fraudulently obtained Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The thieves’ plan to line their pockets was fairly simple: steal the money that the government was doling out to help buoy the economy during the throes of the pandemic. They took advantage of the government’s urgent loan dispersal to those who required immediate help. But the thieves could not resist showing off their looted wealth. They began purchasing flashy and expensive Lamborghinis, beautiful beachfront houses, and spending large amounts in cash. The careless and reckless nature of the heist has proven to be its undoing, and now the U.S. government is coming to take back what was stolen—although they are not acting alone.
In many cases, individuals are serving as whistleblowers to identify the manner in which the thieves fraudulently obtained COVID-19 relief funding. These individuals have become an integral part of the government’s effort to crack down on the fraud. They also require legal counsel to help them advance the claims on behalf of the government. Practitioners who position themselves as counsel to these individual whistleblowers stand to not only help the government in its efforts to recover stolen taxpayer funds, but also to receive awards as the government provides significant financial incentive to those who fight fraud. On that note, my firm opened The Whistleblower Advocates earlier this year, to tackle these types of whistleblower claims.
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