U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge Urges The Public To Continue Reporting Suspected COVID-19 Fraud
Birge says residents reporting internet and phone scams are like a "neighborhood watch" and his office is actively pursuing those leads
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge urged the public to continue reporting 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. He also urged the public to continue reporting suspected price gouging to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office by calling 877-765-8388 or reporting online at www.michigan.gov/ag.
"My office is actively pursuing leads brought to our attention thanks to these hotlines. The scammers know we are home more and on our computers more, so they will try to take advantage. But that also means residents can be a very effective ‘neighborhood watch’ for phone and on-line schemes by reporting them."
The kinds of scams already getting reported locally or around the country include:
• Individuals and businesses selling cures, treatments or testing kits for COVID-19 that are fake.
• Robocalls offering valid COVID-19 healthcare products, like masks, for sale with no intent to deliver.
• 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 computer systems for ransom.
• Solicitations for 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.
Even if a scam seems like it is run from somewhere outside of West Michigan, U.S. Attorney Birge says his office can help. "Federal law enforcement has a long reach," Birge reminded. The NCDF coordinates complaints with all U.S. Attorney’s offices and 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.