On Saturday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its first enforcement action against a COVID-19 (coronavirus) fraudster. This action follows Friday’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General William Barr about the creation of a nation-wide reporting system for coronavirus whistleblowers who witness public health and safety frauds and misuse of funds during the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The DOJ took action against the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” for engaging in a wire fraud scheme that aimed to take advantage of the widespread confusion surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
The website offered vaccine kits for COVID-19 for a shipping charge of $4.95 even though there are no known available vaccines.
A federal court issued a temporary restraining order that requires the website operator to take action to block public access to it immediately.
“The Department of Justice will not tolerate criminal exploitation of this national emergency for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will use every resource at the government’s disposal to act quickly to shut down these most despicable of scammers, whether they are defrauding consumers, committing identity theft, or delivering malware.”
“America needs to hold fraudsters accountable and protect the billions of dollars earmarked for COVID19 relief,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn. His law firm, Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto took steps to educate American workers about their rights by publishing FAQs for Coronavirus whistleblowers this past Monday.
Kohn, who is also the Chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, also published the article “Whistleblowing and The Coronavirus Crisis.” The article expands on the FAQs and explains individual whistleblower rights related to reporting Coronavirus fraud in more detail.
Members of the public with information about suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) should call the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the DOJ Press Release: Justice Department Files Its First Enforcement Action Against COVID-19 Fraud