U.S. attorney urges public to report COVID-19 fraud cases
“In the face of the nationwide spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota remains on-duty and committed to meeting the critical mission of protecting individuals, families and communities throughout the State of Minnesota,” U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald stated in a news release Friday, March 20.
U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald of the District of Minnesota urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19.
People can make a report by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of coronavirus fraud schemes. The National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline 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.
“In the face of the nationwide spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota remains on-duty and committed to meeting the critical mission of protecting individuals, families and communities throughout the State of Minnesota,” MacDonald stated in a news release Friday, March 20. “I also want to thank our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners for standing firm in their shared mission to protect the public.
“Unfortunately, there are wrongdoers who are actively seeking to profit from this crisis by exploiting the fears and vulnerabilities of individuals. This type of criminal behavior is abhorrent and will not go unpunished. I have designated the Chief of our Economic Crimes section to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator for the District of Minnesota, with the primary duties of receiving all incoming reports of COVID-19 related fraud scams and oversight of any resulting prosecutions.”
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 personal devices until payment is received,
Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or nonexistent charitable organizations, or
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 Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen 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.
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