DETROIT, MI – The public is being asked 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. U.S. Attorney Schneider also urged the public to report suspected price gouging to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office by calling 877-765-8388 or reporting online at www.michigan.gov/ag.
Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to coordinate with the Department of Justice to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Coronavirus fraud schemes.
“During the pandemic, our office will continue to investigate and prosecute cases, particularly those involving violent and dangerous criminals,” United States Attorney Matthew Schneider stated. “We also plan to prioritize our efforts to go after scammers who exploit the Coronavirus to cheat people. Our job is to protect the public, and we continue to work with our state and local partners to preserve public safety during these challenging times.”
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 Eastern District of Michigan Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Assistant United States Attorney John Neal, who serves as Chief of the White Collar Crime Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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.