Federal, State Prosecutors Form Delaware COVID-19 Anti-Fraud Coalition

April 29, 2020

United States Attorney David C. Weiss and Delaware Attorney General Kathleen Jennings have announced the formation of a new Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anti-Fraud Coalition, aimed at better protecting the citizens of Delaware from criminal and civil fraud arising from the pandemic.

The Coalition is comprised of local, state and federal agencies, investigators and prosecutors with experience in handling complaints and cases related to consumer fraud, financial fraud, heath care fraud and cybercrime.

Together, the coalition will share information and resources to monitor, identify and investigate misconduct.

“This pandemic is ripe for exploitation by scammers,” Jennings said in a press release issued by her office. “The Delaware Department of Justice and its Fraud Division works each day to educate consumers, prevent fraud, and bring scammers to justice—but our work will never be done as long as consumers continue to be preyed upon by those who profit shamelessly off of their fears and anxiety.”

Participating agencies will take information, tips and complaints from the public as well as other local law enforcement agencies seeking the coalition’s assistance.

“Our collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office is the latest chapter in a longstanding record of partnership, and in this public health and economic crisis it has never been more important for everyone at the federal, state, and local level to collaborate on the people’s behalf,” Jennings continued in the release.

Common scams and frauds include:

  • Economic impact payment (stimulus check): Scammers pretend to be government officials offering false economic impact payments (stimulus checks) in order to obtain personal identifying information including social security and bank account numbers.
  • Diagnosis testing scams: Scammers offer fake COVID-19 testing kits, particularly door-to-door.
  • Treatment/cure scams: Scammers offer fake or unproven treatment regimens that are particularly dangerous because they have the potential to do more harm than good.
  • Charity scams: Scammers set up fake charities to solicit donations that they then spend on themselves.
  • Overinflated prices: Sellers unlawfully use the COVID-19 pandemic to unreasonably inflate prices.
  • Investment scams: Scammers make false claims about tests, cures and other matters related to COVID-19 in order to entice victims to make investment decisions based on those false claims that allow the scammer to steal money and assets from Delawareans.
  • Cyber scams: Scammers send emails related to COVID-19 that appear to be from the victims’ banks, health care providers, the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others for the purpose of obtaining the victims’ personal identifying information and exploiting it for the scammers’ own benefit.
  • App scams: Scammers are creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.
  • Insurance, workers’ compensation and Medicaid fraud: Businesses and government agencies should be vigilant to ensure scammers do not take advantage of their businesses or customers during this pandemic.
  • Scams specifically targeted at seniors: Seniors are more vulnerable to common scams like the Grandparent Scam and Government Imposter Scams. Consumers receiving a call or any contact claiming that loved ones are in danger or hurt, that they owe money and failure to pay will result in their arrest or other harm, or that their benefits are in jeopardy, should not act.

“Sadly, criminals look to take advantage of people, regardless of the circumstances,” Weiss said in the release. “But the people of Delaware can rest assured that we will be relentless in bringing to justice those seeking to illegally profit from this crisis.”

Source: Delaware Attorney General’s Office

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