- A man in Atlanta pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to a scheme to defraud his Fortune 500 employer by submitting a falsified medical letter claiming he had contracted COVID-19, the Justice Department announced on Monday.
- Federal authorities said Santwon Antonio Davis, 35, caused more than $100,000 in company losses after his employer shut down its Atlanta facility for cleaning.
- While investigating the case, authorities found that Davis had previously lied to the company about the death of his child to receive company benefits, but it was discovered that the child never existed.
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A man in Atlanta pleaded guilty to wire fraud after costing his company hundreds of thousands by faking a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the US Department of Justice said on Monday.
The defendant also pleaded guilty to bank fraud after falsifying documents to a mortgage company while on bond for his original COVID-19 wire fraud charge.
In May 2020, officials announced that Santwon Antonio Davis, 35, was charged with defrauding his Fortune 500 employer after filing a falsified medical record claiming he had contracted COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, the company shut down its Atlanta facility for cleaning while continuing to pay its employees.
The DOJ said Davis's false COVID-19 claim cost his company over $100,000 and forced the unnecessary quarantine of several of Davis' coworkers.
"The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families," US Attorney Byung Pak said in a statement. "We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to Coronavirus-related fraud schemes."
While under investigation, federal authorities uncovered additional evidence showing that Davis had told his company that his child had died and that Davis had submitted documents for paid bereavement leave related to his child's death. Authorities found that the child never existed and was fabricated for Davis to obtain benefits.
Additionally, when on pretrial release from his original charge in the COVID-19 wire fraud case, Davis submitted a mortgage application with several fraudulent statements, including fabricated earnings and employment history. According to the release, the mortgage company discovered the fraud after seeing Davis' COVID-19 charges in the news.
"Davis' streak of lies ended when he took advantage of a pandemic to cause undue harm to the company he worked for and their employees," said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta. "The FBI and our federal and state partners remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting any fraud related to this crisis we are all facing."
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the US Department of Housing and the Urban Development Office of the Inspector General. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
In March 2020, US Attorney General William Barr sent a memo to US attorneys warning about fraudulent activities stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated," Barr wrote. "Every U.S. Attorney's Office is thus hereby directed to prioritize the detection, investigation, and prosecution of all criminal conduct related to the current pandemic."
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