The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a new report alleging that a number of Americans are taking advantage of the global coronavirus pandemic by faking positive diagnoses to get out of work. The claims come as many companies are already facing record losses from a severe economic downturn.
According to CNN, the FBI’s Office of Private Sector reported that many Americans, specifically those employed in industries deemed “critical,” have gone as far as to make fake documents confirming positive COVID-19 cases.
Though authorities claimed that in at least one instance the individual had just “wanted a two-week paid vacation,” the report emphasized the serious consequences of the false reports.
For example, one employee working at a “critical manufacturing company” caused the factory to take strident measures to sanitize both the facility and quarantine workers, costing an estimated $175,000 in lost productivity.
“The company shut down the affected manufacturing facility to disinfect the location, ceasing production and halting delivery of necessary materials to the plant. The company notified all employees at the facility, including four workers who had close contact with the reportedly infected employee and were required to self-quarantine,” the report claimed.
But it was not just the factory that suffered economic losses due to the fake diagnosis. Another employee at the facility — who had worked with the fraudster and accordingly believed he had been exposed to the virus — paid for a rental property so as not to infect his family.
A South Carolina man similarly made headlines last month after being arrested for faking a coronavirus diagnosis. The man had worked for a call center, and the facility was closed for five days and thoroughly sanitized in response to the fraudulent claim.
In addition to warning employers about the scam, the FBI also offered guidelines for how to spot a fraudulent health document.
Specifically, CNN noted that the bureau recommended “employers contact medical providers listed on work excuse documents in order to confirm their veracity” before taking measures. The agency also urged employers to keep examples of proper documentation that could help them identify inconsistencies in fake notes.
The practice is not only happening in the United States. In Canada, a young McDonald’s worker pulled a similar scam, forging a doctor’s note that verified a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Ontario Police claimed that in response to the coronavirus threat, “the restaurant remained closed for several days while professional cleaning services worked to sanitize the store.”
The worker has since been arrested.
Though some Americans are using the virus to get out of work, others have been either let go or furloughed from their positions due to the economic effects of self-isolation. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, a record-breaking 10 million Americans filed for unemployment earlier this month.