WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- A leak provided to AmmoLand News by our inside sources shows the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is starting to investigate COVID relief fraud.
The ATF Financial Investigative Services Division (FISD) is looking at financial crimes centering around the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress passed the CARES Act, and President Trump signed the law into effect in March of 2020. The economic stimulus package cost the American taxpayer $2.2 trillion.
The CARES Act consists of several different programs. These programs include unemployment insurance (UI), pandemic unemployment assistance, economic impact payments (EIP), payment protection program (PPP), and the economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) program. These government programs have been wrought with fraud and cost taxpayers millions and maybe billions of dollars in schemes to defraud the government.
Local special agents (SA) and industry operations investigators (IOI) are now expected to investigate for signs of COVID relief fraud. For example, IOIs are now expected to look for signs of fraud during their visits to gun dealers. If an IOI finds what they believe to be COVID relief fraud, the ATF employee will contact FISD, which will assign a forensic auditor to investigate the tip.
IOIs do not have experience in investigating or detecting financial crimes. The ATF is not offering IOIs any type of training classes. By the same token, special agents also do not have any skills in detecting financial fraud. The ATF has not informed any branch offices if they plan on holding any future training classes dealing with CARES Act fraud.
If the tip turns out to be legitimate, the ATF FISD forensic auditor will gather evidence of fraud before contacting the corresponding agency. The ATF has begun to circulate a “cheat sheet” of what agencies are responsible for investigating what CARES Act program. It is unknown if other agencies are investigating CARES Act crime that falls outside their mission.
Some inside and outside of the ATF worry about the Bureau’s investigations into the CARES Act. They believe that these investigations show “mission creep.” Mission Creep in the federal government is when an agency strays from its core mission and starts to veer into areas that they have not been tasked with by the government.
A few people within the gun world who spoke to AmmoLand News believe that the ATF is trying to justify its massive budget. By using resources to investigate COVID relief fraud, the Bureau can show that it is using all its funding and needs more to be effective.
Others see these moves as just another example of an out-of-control federal government agency. The ATF, in recent years, has been expanding its power by using things like Chevron deference to develop de facto laws. The ATF used deference to ban bump stocks and now using the same power to change laws surrounding pistol braces and unfinished receivers and frames.
The ATF has also used IOIs to retroactively run background checks on gun owners that are exempt from the required background checks. The ATF also tasked untrained IOIs to look for gun-running to Mexico. There are many examples of the ATF overstepping its boundaries.
The ATF did not respond to AmmoLand’s request for comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.