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As Aid for COVID-19 Arrives, So Might Fraud. Here’s How You Can Report It.

Posted on April 14, 2020

The federal government has taken extraordinary measures to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law on March 27, provides funds for federal and state agencies to respond to COVID-19. It also gives loans and grants to help businesses and hospitals, and tax rebates of up to $1,200 per person. Additionally, it temporarily expands unemployment benefits.

But while the bulk of spending has not yet reached those in need, there have already been concerns about fraud. Fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of federal funds erodes the public’s trust in the government, and reduces the support that countless individuals and businesses need right now.

In today’s WatchBlog, we look at some types of fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funds–and how you can report concerns to GAO’s FraudNet.   You can also learn more by listening to our new podcast on COVID-19 and FraudNet.

Fraud, waste, and abuse

When people fraudulently spend, waste, abuse, or mismanage federal funds, it can cost the government millions of dollars.

  • Fraud can include inflating the number of hours billed to a federal agency for goods or services, under reporting income to receive federal subsidies for food and housing, or selling fake or stolen goods to an agency.
  • Waste is when someone squanders money or resources, even if it is not illegal. Waste can include buying overpriced office equipment from a preferred vendor, throwing out a federal agency’s computers rather than donating them to schools, or using federal funds to buy equipment for personal use or gain.
  • Abuse happens when someone behaves improperly or unreasonably, or misuses their position or authority. This can include using a federal agency’s computer to download sexually explicit material or writing a contract that favors a specific contractor.

Learn more about fraud, waste, and abuse of federal funds, check out our video on FraudNet below.

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How to report it

It can be challenging identifying where to report your concerns when you have an allegation of fraud, waste, or abuse. But you can report any of your concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic or the CARES Act to GAO’s FraudNet.

Here are 3 methods for reporting your concerns to FraudNet:

  • Our online reporting portal
  • Via email at
  • Or by calling our hotline at 1-800-424-5454

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and recommendations to practice social distancing, FraudNet staff are working remotely. As a result, we strongly encourage you to submit your concern online so we may provide a more timely response and continue to serve the public.

Submitting allegations online through our website form is the preferred method. You have 3 filing preferences to choose from when submitting an allegation through our website:

Standard – You do not place any restrictions on the release of your contact information. If necessary, we may contact you for more information about your submission.

Confidential – We will keep your name confidential and will not release your contact information. If necessary, we may contact you for more information about your submission.

Anonymous – You can remain anonymous and not provide your contact information. When selecting this option, there will be no way to contact you for more information about your submission.

Our FraudNet team will review your allegation and refer it to federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Your information may also provide significant insight into GAO’s oversight work. 

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