The New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, in his first official press conference, announced on Thursday that he would bulk up his office’s unit that takes on Medicaid fraud and create a new group to tackle fraud in other areas, like taxes, pensions and government contracts.
“We cannot afford to lose any more money to companies and individuals who seek to defraud the state,” Mr. Schneiderman told reporters at his office in Lower Manhattan.
“So today, we’re announcing a two-part initiative that will show anyone thinking of ripping off New York taxpayers that we’re going to go after them with every tool we have, and that they will pay the price.”
Mr. Schneiderman said his office would reallocate resources and personnel to cover the new initiatives — the Taxpayer Protection Unit will have about a dozen lawyers and investigators — and pledged that the projects would not cost additional money. Over time, he said, the programs would pay for themselves by recouping money owed to the government.
The existing Medicaid fraud unit, he said, has recouped more than $500 million in the last few years, and he said he expected the new taxpayer unit to recover hundreds of millions of dollars.
The initiatives would rely on a newly strengthened state law, which Mr. Schneiderman helped create as a New York State senator last year. It allows the government to collect triple damages for tax fraud, for example, and provides additional protection to whistle-blowers.
Mr. Schneiderman encouraged New Yorkers to take advantage of the safeguards.
“Blow the whistle on corrupt contractors; blow the whistle on companies that come to your state and commit major tax fraud,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We are confident there are millions of dollars out there.”