The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has received nearly 4,000 COVID-19 related complaints alleging fraud according to a press release. Many of these COVID-19 scams relate to websites advertising fake vaccines and cures, operating fraudulent charity drives, or delivering malware.
The FBI has identified the following red flags that may be indicia of fraud:
- Websites and email addresses offering COVID-19 products, services and information employing addresses modified from legitimate websites, such as cdc.org instead of cdc.gov;
- Unsolicited emails from Charities, businesses or individuals soliciting donations in cash, by wire, gift card, or by U.S. mail after requesting personal information for medical reasons.
Additionally, DOJ is prioritizing price gouging prosecutions during the pandemic. Gouging is defined as excessive or unreasonable price hikes. It is a federal offense to sell “essential” products in excess of market prices. “Essential” products are defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to include personal protective gear and disinfectants.
Recently, federal prosecutor filed a criminal complaint alleging of “scare materials” in violation of the Defense Production Act.
For assistance regarding federal criminal matters, please contact our office.