GEORGIA (WRBL) – State and federal prosecutors have formed a statewide COVID-19 fraud task force to open communication between partner agencies and more quickly share fraud information.
The task force will also work to ensure that each fraud complaint is reported to the appropriate prosecuting agency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Task force member agencies include the Office of the Governor of Georgia, the Office of the Attorney General of Georgia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
All three of Georgia’s U.S. Attorneys, the Attorney General of Georgia, and the Executive Counsel for the Governor’s Office are members of the task force.
“To all would-be scammers: Anyone who uses this pandemic to defraud Georgians will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said Charlie Peeler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “The creation of this unified task force better prepares us to investigate and prosecute criminal acts of fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The law enforcement community is strong in our state. I want to thank our partners at the local, state and federal level dedicated to protecting our citizens from fraudsters.”
Within each task force member agency, an appointed fraud complaint coordinator will oversee the cases and remain in regular contact with partner law enforcement agencies. The appointed coordinators are as follows: Jim Crane, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia; David Dove, Executive Counsel, Office of the Governor of Georgia; Anne Infinger, Deputy Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Office of the Attorney General of Georgia; Russell Phillips, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia; and Patrick Schwedler, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.Statement on new COVID-19 Fraud Task Force
The COVID-19 fraud task force warns Georgians to watch out for these types of scams:
- Treatment scams: Scammers are selling fake vaccines, medicines, and cures for COVID-19.
- Supply scams: Scammers are claiming they have in-demand products, like cleaning and household supplies, and medical supplies, but when an order is placed, the scammer takes the money and never delivers the order.
- Charity scams: Scammers are fraudulently soliciting donations for non-existent charities to help people affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Scammers often use names that are similar to the names of real charities.
- Phishing scams: Scammers, posing as national and global health authorities, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are sending fake emails and texts to trick the recipient into sharing personal information like account numbers, Social Security numbers, and login IDs and passwords.
- App scams: Scammers are creating COVID-19 related apps that contain malware designed to steal the user’s personal information.
- Provider scams: Scammers pretending to be doctors and hospitals demand payment for COVID-19 treatment allegedly provided to a friend or family member of the victim.
- Investment scams: To promote the sale of stock in certain companies—particularly small companies, about which there is little publicly available information—scammers are making false and misleading claims that those companies can prevent, detect or cure COVID-19.
Scams can be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address email@example.com.
“My office is honored to work with this task force in our state’s fight against the spread of COVID-19. As a team, we are committed to putting Georgians first to ensure their safety and well-being as we address this public health state of emergency,” said Governor Brian P. Kemp.