U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin Urges the Public to Report Suspected COVID-19 Fraud
U.S. Attorney Brandon J. Fremin of the Middle District of Louisiana, who also serves as the Executive Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
U.S. Attorney Fremin stated, “My office is committed to protecting the citizens of the Middle District during this unprecedented crisis and has made it a top priority to detect, investigate, and prosecute criminal conduct related to the current pandemic. Always use extreme caution when providing personal identifying or financial information to anyone. I strongly encourage the public to report suspected coronavirus-related waste, fraud, abuse or allegations of criminal conduct by contacting the NCDF.”
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 Middle District of Louisiana Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Paul Pugliese, a longtime federal prosecutor who also serves as the Associate Executive Director of the NCDF.
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.