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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saturday, March 21, 2020

U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson urges the public to report suspected COVID-19 fraud

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei Appointed as Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator

            ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson of the District of New Mexico today urged the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by contacting the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or the NCDF e-mail address disaster@leo.gov.

            “As communities throughout our country and New Mexico work together in unprecedented ways to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the public should be alert that, regrettably, there are also a few criminally-minded individuals who view this crisis as an opportunity for profit.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office urges New Mexicans to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity that they think might be a COVID-19-related fraud scheme. And those who would seek to profit from this crisis by defrauding members of the public should be on notice that federal authorities are ready to aggressively prosecute such crimes to the full extent of the law.”

            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. 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 District of New Mexico Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is AUSA Nicholas J. Ganjei.

            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.

Component(s): 
Updated March 23, 2020