US Attorney urges Utahns to report suspected COVID-19 related fraud to a national hotline

If you suspect a scam call 1-866-720-5721
Posted at 1:53 PM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 16:01:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- — U.S.Attorney for Utah, John W. Huber, is urging Utahns to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud at 1-866-720-5721.

“For most of us, times like these bring out the best in us as we look out for our family, neighbors, and care for the vulnerable,” Huber said. “However, fraudsters are always looking for a new way to make money and exploit the fears of those who are at risk. They will start touting miracle cures for COVID-19 and ask for money to support fraudulent causes or cures. Those who get involved in these fraud schemes are no different than the snake oil salesmen of the past.”

Huber said he is particularly concerned about senior citizens in Utah who are often vulnerable to fraud schemes. “Those who seek to profit by scamming others, especially our elders, must be stopped,” Huber said. “Anyone who hears about a suspected fraud scheme related to COVID-19 should report it immediately through the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline.”

There is currently no known cure for COVID-19, and citizens should avoid interacting with or buying anything from those who claim there is.

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.

The Department of Justice has directed U.S. Attorneys around the nation to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for matters relating to the Coronavirus, direct the prosecution of Coronavirus-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness activities. The Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator in Utah is Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacob Strain.

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.

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