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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for the District of Columbia Announce COVID-19 Scam Prevention Measures

WASHINGTON — As the District of Columbia and this nation face the unprecedented public health emergency posed by the pandemic outbreak of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is partnering with the District of Columbia’s Office of the Attorney General to detect COVID-19 scams, prevent citizens from falling prey to them, and hold fraudsters accountable.

U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Shea stated: “The challenges posed by the spread of COVID-19 threaten the safety and security of the District of Columbia and our nation. My Office will not allow this crisis to be exploited by criminals who look to profit during this public health emergency. We are committed to detecting, investigating, and prosecuting these fraudsters and will devote whatever time, energy, and resources are necessary to do so.”

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine stated: “The Office of Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have joined forces to deploy our vast criminal and civil tools to protect District residents from fraudulent, predatory, and illegal conduct by schemers and fraudsters.”

Among the threats posed by the COVID-19 outbreak are scams aimed at exploiting fears and spreading disinformation about the pandemic. For example, individuals and businesses using the internet to sell fake cures for COVID-19, market products falsely claiming to mitigate COVID‑19, and fraudulently retail COVID-19 supplies, such as face masks and hand sanitizer. In addition there are reports of phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and reports of malware being inserted onto mobile apps designed to track the spread of the virus.

Today, in light of these reports, District of Columbia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office and Office of Attorney General are launching a COVID-19 Pandemic Fraud Hotline, 202-252-7022 and USADC.COVID19@usdoj.gov through which citizens can report suspected scams related to the pandemic. The Hotline will prompt callers to leave a message reporting suspected scams, including whatever detailed information they can provide that might aid law enforcement in identifying and stopping fraudsters. The Hotline’s voicemail and email accounts will be monitored and appropriate leads will be provided to law enforcement partners, such as the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspector, Metropolitan Police Department, and other local and federal authorities.

District of Columbia residents can also submit complaints of suspected scams, fraud, or other consumer complaints to the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia by calling its Consumer Protection Hotline at 202-442-9828 or by emailing Consumer.Protection@dc.gov and can access helpful resources at www.oag.dc.gov/coronavirus.

Topic(s): 
Office and Personnel Updates
Press Release Number: 
20-050
Updated March 18, 2020