U.S. attorney urges public to report suspected COVID-19 fraud

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ATLANTA — U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak is urging the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (866-720-5721) or writing to the NCDF email address disaster@leo.gov.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes.

“The Department of Justice will take swift action to shut down fraud schemes related to COVID-19,” said Pak. “We will use every resource at our disposal to detect these schemes and prosecute those who use this pandemic to perpetrate fraud.”

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 nonexistent charitable organizations.

• Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

In a memorandum to U.S. attorneys issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also 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 activities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Phillips was named the Northern District of Georgia coronavirus fraud coordinator.

The NCDF 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.

To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

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