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Press Release

East Tennessee United States Attorney Warns Public About Coronavirus Scams Targeting the Elderly

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn. ---United States Attorney J. Douglas Overbey said today there have been advertisements and claims on television and on the internet touting “cures” for the coronavirus.  He asked that the public and especially our senior citizens, who are most susceptible to serious harm from COVID-19, be wary of responding to any such advertising or scheme. 


“Unfortunately, in times of crisis, a segment of our society targets elderly persons with schemes that are designed simply to take advantage of them and defraud them out of their money,” U.S. Attorney Overbey stated.  “I urge people to be aware of the falsehoods contained in these advertisements and vigilant to avoid becoming victims of a scam.”


The public should continue to monitor the bulletins from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for the most accurate and up-to-date information on the fight against COVID-19.  There is no known cure for this disease at this time, and citizens should refrain from interacting with anyone who claims otherwise.


“We further ask that anyone who believes they have been or are being targeted in any scam related to this illness come forward at the earliest possible moment and report it to a law enforcement agency.  Those who seek to take advantage of members of our community by preying on their fears regarding COVID-19 must be stopped,” added Overbey. 


The Department of Justice recently announced the launch of a National Elder Fraud Hotline, which provides services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud.  The Hotline is staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers.  Case managers assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed.  When applicable, case managers will complete a complaint form with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for Internet-facilitated crimes and submit a consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the caller.  The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).



Rachelle Barnes
Public Information Officer
(865) 545-4167

Updated March 13, 2020

Community Outreach