U.S. ATTORNEY URGES THE PUBLIC TO REPORT SUSPECTED COVID-19 FRAUD
U.S. Attorney Mark A. Klaassen of the District of Wyoming 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 email@example.com.
“It is unfortunate, but criminals often use times of adversity to their advantage,” said United States Attorney Mark Klaassen. “They see moments where our attention is distracted or we are susceptible to emotional responses as an opportunity to commit brazen acts of fraud. My office and our partners in state and local law enforcement are ready to take actions necessary to stop these crimes, but we need everyone’s help to report these schemes before they cause harm.”
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. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 additional federal law enforcement agencies, as well as state Attorneys General and local authorities.
“I have been in contact with Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill to discuss the situation. Our offices will be cooperating to address any reports of fraud or price gouging occurring in Wyoming,” said United States Attorney Mark Klaassen.
Some examples of potential fraud schemes to be aware of include:
- Individuals and businesses selling fake testing kits, masks, treatments, or 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.
- Robo-calls or phishing emails purporting to be airline or other travel cancellation communications that are actually scams used to collect personal information.
- Malicious websites and ransomware apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
- Persons 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.
- Price gouging on high demand consumer products.
United States Attorney Mark Klaassen has appointed Assistant United States Attorney Christyne Martens to serve as the Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator for Wyoming. She will provide legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to the Coronavirus, direct the prosecution of Coronavirus-related crimes, and conduct outreach and awareness activities. In addition to the NCDF hotline and email account, citizens may also report any suspected fraud to the United States Attorney’s Office, the Consumer Protection Unit of the Wyoming Attorney General, or their local law enforcement agencies.
To find more about Department of Justice resources and information, please visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.