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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2020

U.S. Attorney Urges the Public to Report Suspected COVID-19 Fraud

Gregg Yates Appointed as Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator

HONOLULU, Hawaii – U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price for the District of Hawaii today urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or to the NCDF e-mail address disaster@leo.gov.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Coronavirus fraud schemes.

“While our communities respond to the spread of COVID-19, some folks may try to profit by capitalizing on perceived vulnerabilities created by a national emergency. The community should know that my office is committed to holding anyone who commits crimes related to COVID-19 accountable for their conduct. Whether these criminals sell fake cures for COVID-19 online, send phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or engage in other types of criminal conduct related to COVID-19, we are committed to enforcing the law and protecting the public,” stated U.S. Attorney Price.

Some examples of these schemes include:

  • Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
  • Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
  • Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
  • Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.

In a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the Coronavirus, direct the prosecution of Coronavirus-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness activities. The District of Hawaii Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Yates.

The NCDF can receive and enter complaints into a centralized system that can be accessed by all U.S. Attorneys, as well as Justice Department litigating and law enforcement components to identify, investigate and prosecute fraud schemes. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.

To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

Topic(s): 
Disaster Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Ashley Mah Edwards Ashley.Edwards@usdoj.gov
Updated March 21, 2020