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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Oklahoma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2020

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

U.S. Attorney Trent Shores Appoints Coronavirus Anti-Fraud Prosecution Team

U.S. Attorney Trent Shores of the District of Northern Oklahoma 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.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Barr directed all U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Coronavirus-related fraud schemes.  In a follow-up memorandum issued March 19, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen further directed each U.S. Attorney to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator or Team 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.

“Oklahomans should be wary of fraudsters seeking to exploit the Coronavirus crisis for criminal profit. Across the country, we’ve seen hucksters selling fake testing kits and miracle cure-all treatments, as well as internet scammers stealing personally identifiable information by setting up fake websites for individuals trying to cancel airline tickets or make a charitable donation,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “I encourage the public to report these scams to law enforcement and the National Center for Disaster Fraud. Rest assured, our law enforcement partners and my Coronavirus Anti-Fraud Team are committed to protecting Oklahomans.”

The District of Northern Oklahoma’s Coronavirus Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) consists of Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor Régal, of the Criminal Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marianne Hardcastle and Kristin Harrington, of the Civil Division.

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.
  • Individuals, emails, and websites 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.      

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
Contact: 
Public Affair 918-382-2755
Updated March 20, 2020