The United States Justice Department of Justice is warning the public to be wary of opportunistic fraudsters who have been fear-mongering in the wake of fears of coronavirus.
Attorney General William Barr issued an alert warning of fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 outbreak, as he begins to investigate and prosecute scammers.
According to Barr, he has directed United States attorneys to prioritize and investigate the prosecution of coronavirus-related fraud schemes. Each has been directed 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.
Barr noted that some 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 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 National Center for Disaster Fraud coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.”
Anyone who suspects they are being scammed has been advised to call the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline by calling 1-866-720-5721 or e-mailing email@example.com.
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