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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2020

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald Urges The Public To Report Suspected COVID-19 Fraud

U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald of the District of Minnesota 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. The NCDF Hotline 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.

“In the face of the nationwide spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota remains on-duty and committed to meeting the critical mission of protecting individuals, families and communities throughout the State of Minnesota. I also want to thank our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners for standing firm in their shared mission to protect the public,” said U.S. Attorney MacDonald.

“Unfortunately, there are wrongdoers who are actively seeking to profit from this crisis by exploiting the fears and vulnerabilities of individuals. This type of criminal behavior is abhorrent and will not go unpunished. I have designated the Chief of our Economic Crimes section to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator for the District of Minnesota, with the primary duties of receiving all incoming reports of COVID-19 related fraud scams and oversight of any resulting prosecutions,” added MacDonald.

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 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 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.

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Disaster Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated March 20, 2020