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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Statement of U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain on U.S. Attorney’s Office Operations during Coronavirus Outbreak and on Coronavirus-Related Scams

PHILADELPHIA – As our government responds to the ramifications of the coronavirus and more restrictions are put in place, the virus’ impact on our lives continues to evolve.  I want to update the public on the measures that my Office is taking to ensure that we continue to fulfill our mission to protect the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

During this rapidly evolving situation, one thing remains certain:  the prosecutors and staff in my Office are on duty and stand ready to ensure that our essential law enforcement functions operate effectively.  We will work together with our law enforcement partners to punish and deter illegal activity, and we will do so in a manner that promotes everyone’s health and safety.  This is not “anything goes” time for criminals. 

To that end, we have taken a proactive approach with our justice system partners to provide a coordinated response.  Together with the Federal Community Defenders’ Office and the Chief Judge in our District, we are working together to identify the best strategies for making sure that we perform our mission critical functions while taking every precaution to protect those who make our justice system work.  We also remain in constant contact with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners and will continue to investigate and prosecute criminals who violate federal law.

Our doors do not close – especially in times of crisis.  We will remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing.  And we will be particularly ready to act to root out any crimes that feed on, and exploit, the coronavirus pandemic.  The Justice Department, and my Office, have received reports of fraudsters seeking to profit financially from the crisis.  For example, there have been reports of wrongdoers selling fake cures for the virus online, sending phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to unwitting targets, and engaging in other forms of fraud.  There also have been reports of malware being installed onto computers and mobile apps if the recipients of phishing emails click on links or attachments provided. 

This Office will perform its public safety function – coronavirus or no coronavirus.  And fraudsters and hackers should pay particular attention, as this Office will not tolerate any shameful exploitation of the virus to turn an illegal profit. 

We are working with our federal partners to put a stop to any such scams, and we will succeed in doing so.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of a coronavirus-related scam, please call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or visit tips.fbi.gov.  If the coronavirus scam is specifically Internet-related, please visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

We will continue to monitor and respond to this evolving situation and provide updates as needed. 

Topic(s): 
Disaster Fraud
Updated March 18, 2020