Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office Seizes Two Fraudulent Domains Purportedly Offering Covid-19-Related Funds and Selling Trademarked COVID-19 Vaccine
The Seizure of the Two Domains Marks the 14th and 15th Fraudulent Website Seizures by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI Since the Pandemic; One Site Linked to Dark Web Vendor
Baltimore, Maryland – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has seized the two domains of “https://usahealthwarehouse.com” and “walmartpandemicgrant.com”. The website domain https://usahealthwarehouse.com purported to sell and distribute a trademarked COVID-19 vaccine while the “walmartpandemicgrant.com” domain claimed to be the legitimate website for the Walmart Foundation and offered purported “funds and resources” to those affected by Covid-19. Instead, both domains were allegedly used to collect the personal information of individuals visiting the sites in order to use the information for nefarious purposes, including fraud, phishing attacks, and/or deployment of malware.
Individuals visiting the sites will now see a message that they have been seized by the federal government and will be redirected to another site for additional information. These seizures mark the third and fourth COVID fraud related domain name seized by the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI in the month of July 2021.
The seizure of the two domain names was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations - Baltimore.
According to the affidavit in support of the seizure, the HSI Intellectual Property Rights Center (“IPRC”) and the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (“C3”) were alerted that the dark web vendor “Ghostman20” offered the sale of a trademarked and branded COVID-19 vaccine. The personal profile of Ghostman20 listed a phone number that linked to the website https://usahealthwarehouse.com. The website displayed a real biotechnology company’s trademarked logo and offered the biotechnology company’s trademarked COVID-19 vaccine for $34.00 USD per vial. The website also claimed to offer an extensive range of powders, research chemicals, cannabinoid’s, hormones, and online doctor that could provide a “consultation” when provided medical records.
The website is not authorized to use the real biotechnology company’s trademarked logo, nor is it authorized to sell the biotechnology company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the affidavit in the support of the “walmartpandemicgrant.com” domain seizure, the HSI Intellectual Property Rights Center (“IPRC”) and the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (“C3”) discovered the fraudulent domain. A domain analysis conducted by an HSI Cyber Operations Officer (“COO”) indicated that the https://walmartpandemicgrant.com mimicked the exact verbiage of the legitimate Walmart Foundation website. However, the illegitimate domain required extensive personal identifying information including social security number, date of birth, driver’s license, and the weight stated on your driver’s license, gender, current mailing address and more personal identifying information that is normally not required on a legitimate website. The HSI COO concluded that the domain name not only used this website to obtain personal information but also used the counterfeit Walmart mark to traffic counterfeit goods and services.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by, among other methods, augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the Department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form at: https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended HSI for its work in this investigation. Mr. Lenzner recognized the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Baltimore County Police Department for their assistance and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron S.J. Zelinsky and Sean R. Delaney, who are handling the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md.
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