Man charged with fraud for lying about coronavirus test, forcing employer to shut plant

Andrew Naughtie
·3 min read
Santwon Antonio Davis, who has been charged with defrauding his employer by falsely claiming to have tested positive for coronavirus: Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Santwon Antonio Davis, who has been charged with defrauding his employer by falsely claiming to have tested positive for coronavirus: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

A man from Atlanta, Georgia is facing fraud charges after telling his employer he had tested positive for coronavirus while in fact uninfected – causing the plant where he worked to be shut down for cleaning and costing his employer some $100,000.

Santwon Antonio Davis, who works in Atlanta at a Fortune 500 company, appeared in court this week accused of faking a dubious medical excuse letter saying he had Covid-19 – a letter that was neither signed nor written on formal letterhead, and which said he had been discharged in November 2019.

According to a statement by an FBI agent, Mr Davis’s misrepresentations to his employer began in mid-March, shortly after he and his fellow employees were told that if they tested positive for the virus, they would be granted paid time off.

Mr Davis got a call at work a week later and told his supervisors his mother, with whom he lived, had been exposed to someone who’d tested positive and been told to self-quarantine. His supervisor told him he could continue working because that was a “low risk” exposure, but he nonetheless checked out early, saying he was worried about his mother.

The agent’s statement recounts that next day, Mr Davis texted his supervisor to say his mother had developed symptoms overnight and that they were waiting for her test results. Again, his supervisor said he could work because that was a “low risk” exposure – but Mr Davis didn’t show up for work.

Mr Davis texted his supervisor that Saturday to say his mother had indeed tested positive for coronavirus and that he himself had a fever; he texted again on Sunday to say that he’d tested positive, the agent’s statement says.

That Sunday evening, the supervisor asked Mr Davis to send him a copy of his test results and explained that if he had Covid-19, the company would have to shut for cleaning and other employees who’d worked closely with him would have to self-quarantine.

Relying on what Davis had said, the company closed its plant on March 23 for cleaning and paid salaries of at least four employees while they quarantined because they’d been in close contact with Davis, the agent’s statement says.

However, after the company’s human resources manager reviewed Mr Davis’s suspicious letter, the company called the hospital where he said he’d been tested and found out that it wasn’t even performing Covid-19 tests.

After repeated unsuccessful attempts to get Davis to send his test results, the company told him on March 25 that he’d been suspended and would be fired if he didn’t send them the results by 3pm that day; Mr Davis neither responded nor provided test results, and has been fired.

Mr Davis, who has previously served three spells in jail totalling 18 months, was arrested by the FBI. He has reportedly admitted to never having tested positive.

US Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said that Mr Davis’s actions were just one example of a growing problem of coronavirus-related scamming.

“The defendant caused unnecessary economic loss to his employer and distress to his coworkers and their families. We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to criminals preying on Georgia companies and the public with Coronavirus-related fraud schemes.”

With Associated Press