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U.S. Attorney urges public to report suspected COVID-19 fraud

From Staff Reports

U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee 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 email address [email protected]

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.

“Federal law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will quickly react to the expected scourge of abuse, exploitation and financial fraud related to Coronavirus crimes. We will vigorously prosecute anyone who targets our citizens, whether it be door-to-door, over the phone or online, all of which is simply despicable conduct in this time of crisis,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey.

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 Tennessee Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is AUSA William Roach.

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.