Georgia man pleads guilty to lying to employer about Covid infection, costing them $100,000

The company spent $100,000 disinfecting its workspace and paying for employee salaries while they were home isolating

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 16 December 2020 17:21 GMT
Rudy Giuliani says he initially refused to attend hospital after developing Covid symptoms

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A man in Georgia pleaded guilty to defrauding his employer of tens of thousands of dollars by faking a Covid-19 diagnosis.  

Santwon Antonio Davis, 35, of Morrow, Georgia, pleaded guilty to wire fraud after sending his employer a doctored medical excuse that claimed he had contracted Covid-19.

The US Attorney's Office in Atlanta detailed the incident in a press release.  

After learning about Mr Davis's condition, his employer shut down its plant and brought in a cleaning crew to sanitise the workspace. It also placed several other employees on paid leave, which cost the company more than $100,000, according to prosecutors.  

“The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families," US Attorney Byung J Pak said in a statement.  

Mr Davis eventually admitted that he made up his diagnosis and later pleaded guilty to bank fraud for providing false information to a mortgage company.  

In that situation, Mr Davis submitted an application for a mortgage that included lies in his employment history and earnings, according to prosecutors.  

Mr Davis's court date has not been set.  

According to Chris Hacker, an FBI special agent in Atlanta, Mr Davis is a single case in a rash of attempts to profit off of the virus by frausters.  

“Scammers continue to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic through a variety of means,” he said.

In August, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the state's Department of Public Health had received reports that Georgians were drinking diluted chlorine dioxide and using extracts of oleander - a toxic plant - as coronavirus treatments. Just before Georgians began using the oleander, Donald Trump had said he was considering pushing it as a potential therapeutic, and just before they began drinking chlorine, the mixture was marketed to them as 'Miracle Mineral Solution.'

In response to the numerous scams, a team from Georgia State University was given a $60,000 National Science Foundation grant to study fraudulent or dangerous products marketed as Covid-19 cures that were being sold on the dark web.  

“Not everything is real, but some of the vendors are selling real commodities,” Georgia State associate professor David Maimon, director of the university’s Evidence-Based Cybersecurity Research Group, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  

They found scammers that weren't just snake oil salesmen - in some instances, people were selling Social Security numbers for people to use to apply for unemlployment benefits or small business relief.

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