Press Release As More Federal COVID Relief Flows Out, GAO's FraudNet Hotline Ready to Help Combat Fraud

Washington, DC (February 1, 2021)—As hundreds of billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief are distributed, FraudNet—the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) hotline for processing allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in federal programs—stands ready to receive any new complaints from the public, federal workers, and contractors about the use of funds intended to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

GAO’s FraudNet hotline received over 1,000 complaints related to the CARES Act, many of which involved the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. As GAO indicated in its latest report on the implementation of the CARES Act, federal COVID-19 relief programs remain highly vulnerable to fraud, and the congressional watchdog urges anyone who suspects inappropriate activities to contact FraudNet via phone, e-mail, or on-line.

“So far, the federal government has allocated more than two trillion dollars to help ease the coronavirus’ devastating impact.  We know that the risk of fraud and abuse grows when large sums are spent quickly, eligibility requirements are being developed or changed, and new programs established,” said Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the GAO. “We rely on the public’s help to identify improper activities or weaknesses in programs that warrant scrutiny.  Allegations reported to FraudNet can alert us, potentially early on, to the questionable use of CARES Act and other relief funds.”

In December 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act provided about $900 billion to help combat the public health and economic effects of the pandemic. This is in addition to over $2 trillion provided in earlier relief laws, including the CARES Act.

To report allegations of fraud, waste, and abuse, the public can visit the FraudNet website at http://www.gao.gov/fraudnet. Although the website is the preferred reporting method, allegations can also be sent by e-mail to fraud@gao.gov or by calling 1-800-424-5454 (an automated phone answering system). Allegations may be provided anonymously, and GAO treats all inquiries confidentially. Internet information is transmitted over a secure connection. Tipsters are asked to provide as much detail as possible about their allegations. GAO may refer allegations for follow-up to appropriate inspector general offices or to the Department of Justice.

Past GAO reports on pandemic relief oversight have cited examples of fraud and mismanagement associated with the two SBA programs mentioned earlier, as well as the Internal Revenue Service’s Economic Impact Payment program, and the Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance program.

For more information, contact Chuck Young, Managing Director of Public Affairs, at (202) 512-4800, or youngc1@gao.gov.

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The Government Accountability Office, known as the investigative arm of Congress, is an independent, nonpartisan agency that exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities. GAO also works to improve the performance of the federal government and ensure its accountability to the American people. The agency examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO provides Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonideological, fair, and balanced. GAO’s commitment to good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.

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