U.S. Attorney urges reporting of suspected COVID-19 fraud
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser of the District of Louisiana urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of COVID-19 fraud schemes.
“Along with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we continue to stand ready to enforce the laws of the United States and to address the public safety needs of our community”, said Strasser. “Unfortunately, during times of crisis, criminals continue their efforts to victimize the public. However, we are ready for them.”
To assist with the Department of Justice COVID-19 strategy, Strasser appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Edward Rivera, a seasoned federal prosecutor, as the District of Louisiana’s COVID-19 fraud coordinator.
Rivera will serve as the district’s legal counsel onCOVID-19 fraud related matters and will participate in the prosecution of coronavirus fraud cases, according to Strasser. AUSA Rivera will also conduct public outreach activities relating to COVID-19 fraud schemes.
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 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.