FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, March 23, 2020
CONCORD – U.S. Attorney Scott W. Murray of the District of New Hampshire today urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address [email protected]. The public also can report fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.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.
“During this national emergency, a small number of cruel and self-serving individuals are seeking to profit from the public’s fear of COVID-19,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “There are reports of fraudsters selling counterfeit products and fake cures or setting up malicious websites in order to take advantage of people who are attempting to protect themselves from the virus. Such criminal exploitation will not be tolerated and will receive the full attention of federal law enforcement. I urge anyone who becomes aware of this type of fraud to report it. We will work closely with all of our law enforcement partners to end these despicable schemes and bring the criminals to justice.”
In addition to the NCDF hotline, citizens also can report fraud to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, scammers have found a platform that preys on people’s fears and could make them more likely to be victimized,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “We want you to help us stop these fraudsters by reporting suspicious activity, fraud, and attempted fraud at ic3.gov. We also want you to avoid falling prey to these scams. So don’t click on links within emails from senders you don’t recognize, always independently verify the information originates from a legitimate source, never supply your login credentials or financial data in response to an email, and visit websites by inputting their domains manually. By working together, we can help stop this type of activity.”
Some examples of the fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19 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.
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. The District of New Hampshire Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Hunter. AUSA Hunter can be reached through the main number at the U.S. Attorney’s Office – (603) 225-1552.
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.