Department of Justice urges the public to report COVID-19 fraud

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U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19.

Barr directed all U.S. Attorneys this week to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus-related fraud schemes, according to a release.

In a follow-up memorandum issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen further directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the coronavirus, direct the prosecution of coronavirus-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness.

Some examples of these schemes include:

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
  • Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF), according to the release, can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes.  The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.

Barr urged the public to call the NCDF hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at disaster@leo.gov.