Foreign nationals bilked American taxpayers for more than $280 billion as a panicked federal government handed out relief funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Republican lawmakers what some answers.
Chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding answers from the Department of Justice regarding billions of taxpayer dollars allocated to COVID-19 relief funds that were stolen by international criminal organizations.
After Republicans won a majority in the House in the 2022 midterm elections, the committee has been tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19, gain-of-function research, mask and vaccine mandates, and government spending during the pandemic.
As of January 2023, the federal government has spent an estimated $4.6 trillion on aid programs related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Subcommittee estimates that approximately $280 billion of COVID-19 relief funds, money that was intended for struggling American families, businesses, and hospitals, was stolen by criminals in the U.S. and overseas.
“Some of these fraudulent actors were based outside the United States and may involve international criminal organizations. Estimates imply that at least half of all stolen COVID-19 relief funds went to Russian, Chinese, and Nigerian criminals,” Chairman Wenstrup wrote.
In August 2021, a senior FBI official and member of the COVID Fraud Task Force called the fraud an “economic attack on the United States,” and that “It’s a significant amount of money that goes overseas,” the Subcommittee Chairman wrote.
One instance of fraud cited by Wenstrup occurred in December 2022, when a group of hackers linked to the Chinese Communist Party stole at least $20 million in relief funds by hacking government computer networks in at least six states.
Wenstrup is demanding that the DOJ turn over all documents and communications regarding estimated loss of COVID relief funds due to fraud by international criminal organizations.
Read Chairman Wenstrup’s full letter to Attorney General Garland below: