Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Crack Down on Pandemic Fraud

Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Crack Down on Pandemic Fraud

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to crack down on pandemic fraud. By increasing the rewards for reporting fraud and increasing the penalties for fraud that occurs during state emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, these new laws will deter individuals from committing this crime as well as encourage the reporting of fraud.

“We’re sending a clear message: New York has zero tolerance for fraud, especially in our most critical times of need.” Governor Hochul said. “These new laws will protect New Yorkers and encourage them to report fraud and aid recovery efforts, while cracking down on bad actors and their fraudulent attempts to turn a profit during emergencies.”

The legislation (A.1431/S.1120) increases the reward amounts given to individuals who report fraud related to a state of emergency. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers reported seeing potentially fraudulent acts committed against the state. Currently, private citizens can file civil lawsuits on behalf of the government to help recover defrauded money and can be awarded a percentage of the money recovered. With this new law, whistleblowers may be entitled to additional money if the fraud was committed during a state of emergency.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “As with other emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy or 9/11, the need to respond quickly creates opportunities for fraudsters. By filing a whistleblower qui tam lawsuit, citizens can be awarded a percentage of the money recovered. Government funds are limited. especially due to the pandemic. This law encourages whistleblowers to come forward with information to help the state recover funds and prevent criminal dealings. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation into law and appreciate State Senator Kaminsky’s hard work in getting it passed in the state Senate.”

The legislation (S.4954-C/A.9193) increases the penalties for fraud that occurs during a declared State of Emergency. This legislation will impose monetary penalties on any partnership, corporation, company, trust or association, or individual who commits such fraud. The new law empowers the Attorney General to take measures for civil penalties against these subjects.

Attorney General Letitia James said, “During the height of the pandemic, New Yorkers were defrauded by fraudsters trying to take advantage of hard times. My office has taken important actions to stop scams, combat price increases on essential goods, and recover millions of dollars for consumers who were deceived. This new law will strengthen our ability to go after those who try to take advantage of New Yorkers. I applaud Governor Hochul, Senator Myrie and Assemblywoman Rozic for taking this important step to protect New Yorkers.”

State Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “This new law is a clear statement to fraudsters and would-be fraudsters: if you take advantage of New York consumers during this difficult time, your cost of doing business will increase greatly. New Yorkers have already lost over $80 million per Pandemic-related fraud and increased penalties for these white-collar crimes will help deter them now and during future crises. I am grateful to my fellow Assemblyman, Nily Rozic, and the Governor for signing our bill into law. in law.”

Assembly member Nily Rozic said, “During times of crisis, consumers are at greater risk of being defrauded and defrauded. This new law will ensure that those who take advantage of New Yorkers when they are most vulnerable will be severely penalized. Thank you Governor Hochul for signing this important piece of legislation”.

New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, “Protecting New Yorkers against fraud and unscrupulous actors, especially during emergencies when residents are most vulnerable, is a top priority of our Division of Consumer Protection and New York State. I thank Governor Hochul for signing these important bills into law and for him. continued commitment to New York consumers.”

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