PITTSBURGH – United States Attorney Scott W. Brady today announced the appointment of a COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator to lead investigations into potential fraud schemes perpetrated as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Attorney General William Barr has asked U.S. Attorneys nationwide to remain vigilant in detecting, investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the crisis. “The pandemic is dangerous enough without wrongdoers seeking to profit from public panic and this sort of conduct cannot be tolerated,” Attorney General Barr said.
“Scammers are using email phishing schemes claiming to be from legitimate health organizations, advertising counterfeit virus test kits, and fraudulently seeking donations for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations, all in an effort to exploit people’s anxiety and uncertainty,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “We will prioritize the investigation and prosecution of fraud related to the COVID-19 virus in order to protect the people of western Pennsylvania. All fraudsters should know that if you cross a state line, use your phone or the internet, DOJ can and will prosecute your crime.”
As part of the strategy, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shaun Sweeney, a Senior Litigation Counsel, will serve as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator, and will oversee the prosecution of fraud resulting from virus scammers.
“AUSA Sweeney is an experienced and talented federal prosecutor who will lead our work to stop individuals who are taking advantage of the coronavirus outbreak,” U.S. Attorney Brady added.
In addition the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website now contains a front page button where visitors can quickly report fraud to the office and/or to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Western Pennsylvanians who believe they may have been the target or victim of a virus-related fraud scheme should visit www.justice.gov/usao-wdpa and provide detailed information about their experience.