The Department of Justice remains vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis.
Combatting Coronavirus Fraud
Fraud Alert: Be aware that criminals exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams.
- Be on the lookout for COVID-19 vaccine fraud schemes. Never share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals. Learn more about what to avoid.
- Be cautious of unsolicited healthcare fraud schemes of testing and treatment through emails, phone calls, or in person. The U.S. has medical professionals, and scientists working hard to find a cure, approved treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19. Learn more about what to avoid.
- Be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and emails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees. Remember IRS’s first form of communication is by mail - not by phone. Learn more about fraudulent schemes related to the IRS.
- Be aware of unemployment insurance fraud and learn the steps to take if you suspect criminals have exploited your identity. Learn more about unemployment insurance fraud.
Criminals will likely continue to use new methods to exploit COVID-19 worldwide. Stay alert and stay informed about common fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out more about these types of scams.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it without leaving your home by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
National Unemployment Insurance Fraud Task Force
The scope of unemployment insurance fraud has become unprecedented. Find information about unemployment insurance fraud and what to do if you suspect criminals exploited your identity.
Consumers should be vigilant in light of these threats and take the appropriate steps to safeguard themselves.
Who is at risk of becoming a victim?
- Those who have already been a victim of identity theft
- Those who have had their personally identifiable information (PII) exposed in a past data breach, and
- Those who have given their PII to an individual who claims to facilitate filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims with state workforce agencies (SWAs) often for a fee.
Cares Act Fraud
The Fraud Section of the Criminal Division plays a leadership role in the Department of Justice’s prosecution of fraud schemes that exploit the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act relief programs. The CARES Act is a federal law enacted in March 2020, designed to provide emergency financial assistance to the millions of Americans suffering the economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two programs were developed through CARES Act:
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides funding to businesses through PPP loans for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities. PPP allows the interest and principal on loans to be forgiven if the business spends proceeds on certain expense items within a designated time and uses a certain percentage of the loan on payroll expenses.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program is directly administered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). EIDL is designed to provide economic relief to small businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Congress appropriated billions of dollars in funding for EIDL in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.