U.S. Attorney Designates Federal Prosecutor to Serve as Coordinator for Fighting COVID-19 Fraud
PHOENIX, Ariz. – U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey announced today his appointment of a federal prosecutor to lead the fight against fraud in the state of Arizona relating to COVID-19.
“Our office has already started receiving reports about individuals who are trying to use this crisis as an opportunity to prey upon others,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey. “This kind of behavior during a national public health emergency is egregious and despicable. We will identify and prosecute anyone who uses the COVID-19 crisis to defraud others.”
U.S. Attorney Bailey appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Knapp, a longtime prosecutor and the Office’s White Collar Section Chief, to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator. AUSA Knapp will serve as legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the virus and will lead all investigations based on incoming reports of fraud related to COVID-19.
Some common scams linked to COVID-19 that are being reported around the nation include:
- Testing Scams: Individuals selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money;
- Treatment Scams: Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online;
- Charity Scams: Individuals soliciting donations for individuals, groups, and areas affected by COVID-19;
- Supply Scams: Scammers creating fake shops, websites, and email addresses claiming to sell medical supplies that are in high demand;
- App Scams: Mobile apps that appear to be designed to track the spread of COVID-19, but which insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information;
- Phishing Scams: Phishing emails sent from entities posing as the World Health Organization (“WHO”) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”);
- Provider Scams: Scammers are contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment;
- Investment Scams: Online promotions on various platforms, including social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.
If you or someone you know believe you’ve been the target or victim of a fraud scheme related to the COVID-19 crisis please contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721). Scam reports can also be made online by emailing NCDF at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by visiting www.IC3.gov.
As our nation continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, the critical mission of the U.S. Department of Justice must and will continue. In a memo this week, Attorney General Barr directed all U.S. Attorneys to remain vigilant in detecting, deterring, and prosecuting criminal activity, especially crimes of fraud related to the crisis.
In a recent email to the office staff, U.S. Attorney Michael Bailey wrote, “As federal prosecutors we’ve each assumed a mantle, sworn an oath, and accepted a duty – proudly – to protect others and our community from crime. We will fulfill that duty, notwithstanding hurdles or roadblocks.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to do its part and fulfill its mission during this crisis. In the meantime, we urge you to educate yourselves about these schemes and report any fraud to the authorities.
RELEASE NUMBER: 2020-032_COVID19
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/
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