GEORGIA (WRBL) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorney’s offices to prioritize investigations of coronavirus fraud schemes. As a result, a federal prosecutor has been appointed to investigate and prosecute suspected cases that take advantage of the COVID-19 situation.
The public can report fraud schemes to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email potential fraud to firstname.lastname@example.org. The NDCF hotline will receive an enter complaints into a centralized system that all U.S. Attorneys can access, according to the Department of Justice.
The information in the system will also be available for law enforcement to identify, investigate, and prosecute fraud schemes. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as legal counsel for the federal judicial district on coronavirus matters.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Crane has been named the Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator for the Middle District of Georgia by U.S. Attorney Charles Peeler.
“Like the rest of the country, COVID-19 has impacted the lives of citizens throughout the Middle District of Georgia, yet there are fraudsters out there trying to exploit this situation for their own financial benefit. Our office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners stand ready to investigate and prosecute COVID-19 fraud scams in every community we serve,” said Peeler. “We are asking the public to remain alert to potential schemes. And, to all scam artists attempting to defraud the public during this difficult time: We will prosecute you to the fullest extent allowed by law. Count on it.”
Some examples of schemes the DOJ has highlighted 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.