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Spokane, Washington – William D. Hyslop, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, has released a Public Service Announcement (“PSA”) providing steps the public can take when they encounter consumer financial fraud scams, illegal hoarding or price gouging during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

“We are aware of instances of consumer fraud violations across the country stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency,” said U.S. Attorney Hyslop. “While Americans work to protect themselves from the threat of COVID-19, some individuals are actively preying upon our citizens and are trying to profit off of this emergency. We are asking all electronic media to carry this PSA message to help get this important message out to the public.”

The PSA can be viewed at the following link:

https://twitter.com/USAttorneys/status/1252213361636446210

A special HD quality version of the PSA suitable for broadcasting can be obtained by contacting Debbie Doll, Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney at (509) 413-6344 or via email at debra.doll@usdoj.gov

If you (or someone you know) believe you have been the target or victim of COVID-19-related fraud, hoarding or price-gouging, you are strongly encouraged to report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline (866.720.5721), or to the NCDF email address (disaster@leo.gov). The NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division that assists with detection, prevention, investigation, and prosecution of criminal conduct related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to advocate for the victims of such conduct. The NCDF Hotline is available to receive reports from the public of potential fraud 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers will be connected with a live operator or can leave a message detailing their report.

The public may also make such reports to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center by visiting www.IC3.gov. The FBI has extensive expertise in cybercrime and is monitoring issues relating to phishing attempts and efforts to infect emails, links, and postings with malware.

Complaints can also be emailed to the United States Attorney’s Office at: usawae-coronavirus.edwa@usdoj.gov

Fraudsters devise numerous methods for defrauding people, such as creating websites, contacting people by phone and email, and posting disinformation on social media platforms. Examples of some of the scams linked to COVID-19 include:

• Testing scams: Selling fake at-home test kits or going door-to-door performing fake tests for money.

• Treatment scams: Offering to sell fake cures, vaccines, and advice on unproven treatments for COVID-19.

• Provider scams: Contacting people by phone and email, pretending to be doctors and hospitals that have treated a friend or relative for COVID-19, and demanding payment for that treatment.

• Phishing scams: Posing as national and global health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or sending phishing emails designed to trick recipients into downloading malware or providing personal identifying and financial information.

• App scams: Creating and manipulating mobile apps designed to track the spread of COVID-19 to insert malware that will compromise users’ devices and personal information.

• Investment scams: Offering online promotions, including through social media, claiming products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure COVID-19, and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

If you would like to schedule an interview with U.S. Attorney Hyslop, please contact Debbie Doll, Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney, at 509-413-6344.

Additional information about COVID-19 Fraud is available at the website for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is http://www.justice.gov/usao-edwa

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