(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney Matthew G.T. Martin of the Middle District of North Carolina 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.
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.
“Exploiting the difficult circumstances the global pandemic has created is despicable, but some people are so callous and greedy that they will defraud their fellow citizens when at their most vulnerable. We are determined to identify and prosecute these criminals to the fullest extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Martin. “You can help by contacting the National Center for Disaster Fraud with information about any schemes you see that aim to take advantage of people.”
Some examples of these schemes include:
• Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud
• 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 Middle District of North Carolina Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is AUSA Frank Chut, a seasoned fraud prosecutor with substantial experience investigating predatory schemes.
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.