EASTERN DISTRICT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE REMAINS OPERATIONAL AND PREPARES RESPONSE TO EMERGING TREND OF COVID-19 FRAUD
MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA – Amid the Presidential directive to comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on social distancing and the State of Oklahoma’s similar requirements, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Oklahoma remains open. As the chief federal law enforcement agency in the 26 Oklahoma counties which comprise the Eastern District, the United States Attorney’s Office continues to investigate and prosecute cases and represent the interests of the United States of America in various criminal and civil actions. Guidance from United States Attorney General William Barr has authorized a number of staff to carry on the mission via telework.
United States Attorney Brian J. Kuester said, “This Office continues to work with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners to serve and protect in the very difficult circumstances we are all facing. While much of our staff is teleworking, our office is open and we continue to investigate cases and will bring charges against those who threaten the safety and security of people in the Eastern District, and continue to defend the interests of the United States. The court is implementing novel methods which allow us to continue to litigate cases, including the use of video teleconferencing.”
While the number of Americans infected by the virus continues to grow, law enforcement is being confronted with the escalation of fraud schemes associated with COVID-19. To combat criminals exploiting this national crisis for personal gain, Attorney General Barr has directed all U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to COVID-19 Fraud. “In compliance with the AG’s request, I have appointed an Assistant United States Attorney as the Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator for the Eastern District of Oklahoma. The Coordinator has begun communicating with our law enforcement partners and we will be ready to take swift action against scammers attempting to prey upon those who are vulnerable because the fear caused by this pandemic,” said USA Kuester. The Department of Justice has established a hotline for individuals to report COVID-19 complaints - The National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline - 1-866-720-5721 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Finally, I want to extend my gratitude and thanks for the men and women in professions that put them on the front lines of this national disaster. Without the selfless service of our law enforcement, first responders, and medical professionals, the coronavirus would have a more devastating impact on our country.”