Since the outbreak of coronavirus last year, the U.S. Justice Department has cracked down on fraud against programs designed to support businesses struggling amid the pandemic, bringing dozens of prosecutions against individuals accused of misusing relief funds for lavish personal spending.

But as that effort moves beyond the proverbial low-hanging fruit, the Justice Department plans to expand the use of its civil enforcement authority and bring cases under a law accountable for billions of dollars in recoveries for the federal government, a top official said Wednesday.