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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Puerto Rico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 20, 2020

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

EAUSA Jacqueline Novas Appointed As Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the District of Puerto Rico 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 the NCDF's on-line portal for complaints at https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/webform/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.

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.

"We will join efforts with our law enforcement partners to detect, investigate and prosecute those who choose to exploit the coronavirus national emergency to perpetrate fraudulent and illegal schemes, and we will advocate on behalf of the victims of these offenses. Even in the midst of this national emergency, we will continue protecting the public from these and other offenses," said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.

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 Puerto Rico Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacqueline D. Novas.

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.

We encourage the public to visit the following websites:

Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Cyber Crime
Disaster Fraud
Health Care Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated May 4, 2020