Serial Fraudster Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison for Participating in Elder Fraud “Grandparent” Scheme and a COVID-19 CARES Act Unemployment Benefit Scheme
Baltimore, Maryland – Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur is encouraging all Marylanders to be aware of individuals attempting to profit from the coronavirus pandemic. Coronavirus scams are being perpetrated around the country, including in Maryland. Recently, scammers sent e-mails to people in Maryland, purporting to be from a local hospital and offering coronavirus vaccines for a fee. In fact, no vaccine is currently available for the coronavirus. Other fraudsters are offering fake cures for the virus or posing as public health officials. Still other scams use websites that appear to be legitimate, but are actually fake websites that infect the users’ computers with harmful malware or seek personal information that can be later used to commit fraud. Many of these scams target the most vulnerable, especially the elderly.
U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur stated, “Fraudsters who are preying on citizens during this unprecedented public health crisis are reprehensible. My office and the entire law enforcement community are committed to bringing fraudsters who prey upon our most vulnerable citizens to justice. We will continue our outreach efforts to make the public aware of scams and frauds. I urge citizens to remain vigilant and to be skeptical of any telephone calls, e-mails, or websites that request personal information or banking information, while promising money or services that seem too good to be true.”
U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr sent a memo to all U.S. Attorneys making the investigation of these scams and the individuals perpetrating them a priority. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are open and ready to investigate these frauds. While employees of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office are responsibly practicing social distancing, the Office’s dedication to the safety of all Maryland citizens continues.
Don’t be taken in by a scam. There are resources available to learn the facts about the coronavirus and how to protect yourself from scammers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has guidelines on how to keep from becoming ill, and other information about the disease, on its website. The Federal Trade Commission has consumer information about coronavirus scams on its website, including a complaint form to report scammers. Elderly victims may also call the newly launched Elder Fraud Hotline at 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311), if they believe they are victims of a coronavirus scam—or any other type of fraud.
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