Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Coronavirus Update 6–2–2020: Justice Department indicts employee for COVID-19 workplace fraud

In mid-April the FBI warned employers to be on the lookout for fake COVID-19 diagnoses, doctors' notes, and other coronavirus-related documents from employees. The Justice Department has now indicted the first employee for committing this new breed of fraud.

Santwon Antonio Davis has been charged with defrauding his employer by allegedly faking a positive COVID-19 medical excuse letter, causing the employer to stop business and sanitize the workplace. Davis has since admitted that he did not have COVID-19. …

According to the … charges and other information presented in court: The defendant, who was employed by a Fortune 500 company with a facility located in the Atlanta, Georgia area, falsely claimed to have contracted COVID-19 and submitted a falsified medical record to his employer. In concern for its employees and customers, the corporation closed its facility for cleaning and paid its employees during the shutdown. This caused a loss in excess of $100,000 to the corporation and the unnecessary quarantine of several of the defendant’s coworkers.

You can read the full affidavit submitted by the U.S. Attorney in support of the criminal complaint here. (Disclaimer: Mr. David is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)

This is as good as time as any to remind you of the steps can you take if you think an employee is faking a coronavirus diagnosis.

  • Pay attention to inconsistencies on notes and other documents in fonts and spacing, or grammatical or spelling errors.
  • Look for computer-generated, versus hand signatures.
  • Compare legitimate medical excuse letters from health care providers to be aware of their typical format and structure.
  • Contact the medical provider to authenticate the document (after first providing the employee the opportunity to authenticate).

Be alert, because it's fair to assume that as more employees return to work, more employees will try to take advantage.

* Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash