Moments of crisis bring the best in so many people but also the worst in others. For all the good that our health workers, good samaritans, kind neighbors, caring employers, understanding teachers and so many others bring to the table during this pandemic, there is also evil perpetrated by criminals whose greed apparently knows no bounds. Crime is rearing its ugly head in the midst of these trying times for us all.
The Trump administration is moving fast and decisively to curb the rising wave of COVID-19 related crime. The FBI just issued a Public Service Announcement warning that “scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic” to perpetrate COVID-19-related internet-based fraud schemes.
The US Department of Justice and the FB both announced that there are individuals and businesses who are criminally exploiting the pandemic by:
1) selling fake cures for COVID-19 or treatments online;
2) sending phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designed to download malware or elicit personal identifying and financial information;
3) inserting malware into mobile apps designed to track and spread the virus to compromise devices and steal personal identifying information;
4) sending phishing emails asking for the verification of personal identification in order to receive an economic stimulus check; and
5) selling counterfeit products such as sanitizing products, masks, goggles, gowns, gloves and medical supplies.
The U.S. Attorney’s Offices established COVID-19 Fraud Task Forces to investigate and prosecute aggressively coronavirus-related fraud, with other civil and criminal enforcement actions sure to follow.