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Idaho residents encouraged to report suspected COVID-19 fraud schemes

Posted: 3:21 PM, Mar 23, 2020
Updated: 2020-03-23 17:21:35-04
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BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Attorney of the District of Idaho, Bart M. Davis, urges Idahoans to report suspected fraud schemes related to coronavirus. Residents can call the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline at 1-866-750-5721 or email disaster@leo.gov. People can also reach the U.S. Attorney's Office at 208-334-1211.

With the Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud schemes related to COVID-19.

“While most Idahoans are finding ways to help their neighbors, unfortunately, there are others who are taking advantage during this time of uncertainty,” said U.S. Attorney Davis. “It is essential that federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis. The pandemic is difficult enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic. Such conduct cannot and will not be tolerated.”

In a memo issued March 19 to U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen directed all attorneys to appoint a Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator. The coordinator will serve as the legal counsel for the federal judicial district on anything related to the coronavirus. The person will also direct the prosecution of coronavirus-related crimes and conduct outreach and awareness activities. The District of Idaho’s Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator is Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit.

Some examples of the 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.