Report any fraud related to COVID-19

YOUNGSTOWN — U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio wants the public to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline (1-866-720-5721) or writing to the NCDF email address disaster@leo.gov.

In coordination with the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of COVID-19 fraud schemes.

“The Department of Justice is absolutely committed to bringing to justice those who would seek to take advantage of our friends, family and neighbors during this challenging time — but we need the public’s help,” Herdman said. “The mission of law enforcement never stops, and if you’re a criminal seeking to capitalize on public misconceptions or fear, then you should know that we will find you and prosecute you.”

Some examples of these schemes are:

• 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 COVID-19 related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.

• Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or nonexistent charitable organizations.

• Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to bill fraudulently for other tests and procedures.

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen also directed each U.S. attorney to appoint a COVID-19 fraud coordinator to serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on matters relating to COVID-19, direct the prosecution of COVID-19-related crimes, and to conduct outreach and awareness activities. The Northern District of Ohio COVID-19 fraud coordinator is Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Abreu.