Legislation to increase award amounts given to individuals who report fraud; increase penalties for fraud that occurs during a declared state of emergency
Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed a legislative package to crack down on pandemic fraud. Her team said, “By increasing rewards for reporting fraud and increasing penalties for fraud that occurs during state emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, these new laws will deter individuals from committing this crime as well as encourage the reporting of fraud.”
Hochul said, “We are sending a clear message: New York has zero tolerance for fraud, especially in our most critical times of need. These new laws will protect New Yorkers and incentivize them to report fraud and assist with recovery efforts while cracking down on bad actors and their deceitful attempts to turn a profit during emergencies."
A press release said, “Legislation A.1431/S.1120 increases the award 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 perpetrated on the state. Currently, private citizens can file civil lawsuits on behalf of the government to help recover defrauded money and may be rewarded a percentage of the money recovered. With this new law, whistleblowers may be eligible to receive additional money if the fraud was perpetrated during a state of emergency.”
Assembly member Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "As with other states of emergency, like Hurricane Sandy or September 11th, the need to respond swiftly creates opportunities for perpetrators of fraud. By filing a qui tam whistleblower lawsuit, citizens may be awarded a percentage of money recovered. Government funds are limited, especially because of the pandemic. This law incentivizes whistleblowers to come forward with information to assist the state in recovering funds and deterring criminal dealings.”
The press release said, “Legislation S.4954-C/A.9193 increases 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 action for civil penalties against these entities.”
Attorney General Letitia James said, "During the height of the pandemic, New Yorkers were deceived by fraudsters trying to take advantage of difficult times. My office has taken significant action to stop scams, combat price gouging of essential goods, and recover millions of dollars for consumers who were misled. This new law will strengthen our ability to go after those trying to take advantage of New Yorkers.”
New York State Sen. Zellnor Myrie said, "This new law is a clear statement to would-be fraudsters and scammers: If you take advantage of New York consumers during this difficult time, your cost of doing business is about to get much higher. New Yorkers have already lost over $80 million to pandemic-related fraud, and increasing penalties for these white-collar crimes will help deter them now and during future crises.”
Assembly member Nily Rozic said, "During times of crisis, consumers are at higher risk of being scammed and defrauded. This new law will ensure those who take advantage of New Yorkers at the times they are most vulnerable will be penalized heavily.”
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "Protecting New Yorkers against fraud and unscrupulous actors, especially during emergencies when residents are at their most vulnerable, is a top priority of our Division of Consumer Protection and New York state. I thank Gov. Hochul for signing these important bills into law, and for her continued commitment to New York's consumers."