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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy J. Shea's Statement Providing Tips for Protection against COVID-19 Scams

            The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is committed not only to deterring and to prosecuting scammers and fraudsters who would seek to benefit from the fears raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, but to assisting individuals in the District in protecting themselves from such scams.  Again, we urge you to be vigilant and report any suspected instances of fraud to the COVID-19 Pandemic Fraud Hotline, 202-252-7022 and USADC.COVID19@usdoj.gov.

To protect yourself from these types of scams, the United States Attorney’s Office urges everyone to take the following steps:

  • Independently verify the identity of any company, charity, or individual that contacts you regarding COVID-19. 

  • Check the websites and email addresses offering information, products, or services related to COVID-19. Be aware that scammers often employ addresses that differ only slightly from those belonging to the entities they are impersonating. For example, they might use “cdc.com” or “cdc.org” instead of “cdc.gov.” 

  • Be wary of unsolicited emails offering information, supplies, or treatment for COVID-19 or requesting your personal information for medical purposes. Legitimate health authorities will not contact the general public this way.

 

  • Do not click on links or open email attachments from unknown or unverified sources. Doing so could download a virus onto your computer or device.  Also, do not forward these emails to anyone.

 

  • Make sure the anti-malware and anti-virus software on your computer is operating and up to date.

 

  • Ignore offers for a COVID-19 vaccine, cure, or treatment. Remember, if there is a medical breakthrough, you won’t hear about it for the first time through an email, online ad, or unsolicited sales pitch.

 

  • Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies.  Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.

 

  • Research any charities or crowdfunding sites soliciting donations in connection with COVID-19 before giving. Remember, an organization may not be legitimate even if it uses words like “CDC” or “government” in its name or has reputable looking seals or logos on its materials. For online resources on donating wisely, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. 

 

  • Be wary of any business, charity, or individual requesting payments or donations in cash, by wire transfer, gift card, or through the mail.  Don’t send money through any of these channels.

 

  • Be cautious of “investment opportunities” tied to COVID-19, especially those based on claims that a small company’s products or services can help stop the virus.  If you decide to invest, carefully research the investment beforehand.  For information on how to avoid investment fraud, visit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) website.

 

  • For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites.

            Take these measures to help protect yourself, but if you encounter any activity that indicates one of these scams, please report it to the COVID-19 Pandemic Fraud Hotline, 202-252-7022 and USADC.COVID19@usdoj.gov.

Topic(s): 
Coronavirus
Press Release Number: 
20-054
Updated March 31, 2020