U.S. Attorney Announces Appointment of Federal Prosecutor to Lead Fight Against COVID-19 Fraud
(STL.News) – John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, today announced the appointment of a federal prosecutor to lead the fight against fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attorney General William Barr has directed U.S. Attorneys nationwide to remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting criminal activity related to the crisis. As part of this strategy, U.S. Attorney Lausch appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Murray, Chief of the office’s Financial Crimes Section, to serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator for the Northern District of Illinois. Working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, AUSA Murray will coordinate and lead investigations and prosecutions of those who attempt to take advantage of people during this time of crisis.
To report fraud related to COVID-19, log on to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx.
“My office will vigilantly guard the public from fraudsters who try to take advantage of a vulnerable time for our nation,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “A national crisis is by no means a safe harbor for criminal activity.”
U.S. Attorney Lausch warned the public to be extra cautious about unscrupulous schemes, particularly online. There have been reports locally and throughout the country of individuals and businesses selling fake cures or test kits for COVID-19 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 have been sent to unsuspecting citizens.
U.S. Attorney Lausch offered tips to help avoid scammers:
- Do not click on links from sources you don’t know. These could be attempts to download viruses onto your computer or cell phone
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding websites. Do not let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone asks for a donation in cash, gift card, or wire transfer, do not do it