Fraud Cases

US Attorney for Middle District of GA Appoints Coronavirus Fraud Coordinator

March 27, 2020.

As we see an increase in prosecutions for “coronavirus-related fraud,” it appears that law enforcement’s efforts are becoming more formal. Today, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announced that he has appointed a federal prosecutor to investigative suspected fraud schemes related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The move comes after AG Barr directed U.S. Attorneys to prioritize such cases.

As examples of coronavirus-fraud, the DOJ’s press release cites:

  • Businesses purporting to sell treatments, vaccines, and cures for the coronavirus infection, which do not currently exist.
  • Organizations offering test kits distributed from the World Health Organization or Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which are not actually accessible to the public.
  • Website operators that create fake websites that appear to contain information about the coronavirus but which actually install malware on the user’s computer.
  • Fraudulent charities for coronavirus-related causes.
  • Medical providers obtaining patient information for coronavirus testing or treatment and using that information to bill for other procedures or unnecessary procedures

Clearly, the DOJ is casting a wide net when it comes to targeting suspected “coronavirus-related fraud.” While we may see some taking advantage of the uncertainty and fear among the general public, however, not everyone doing so will be violating federal criminal law. Stocking up on toilet paper and selling it at a marked up price, for example, may be wrong, but not criminal.

Click here to read the DOJ press release.

Feds Charge California Man With Coronavirus-related Fraud

March 25, 2020.

On Wednesday, the FBI arrested a man in California and charged him with federal fraud offenses. The man was allegedly soliciting investments for a fake cure for the coronavirus. To date, there is no cure for those infected with the virus.

According to an article on ABC News, the federal government is accusing the man of claiming to have developed a “patent-pending cure” for the virus and using his company to solicit investments to market pills for preventing coronavirus and develop an “injectable cure” for those who already have it. The man also falsely claimed that celebrities like Magic Johnson served on the board of directors for his company.

The man was arrested after attempting to give a sample of the pills to an undercover agent. A major issue in this prosecution will be the man’s knowledge and intent, specifically whether he knew the pills were a sham or whether he believed they might actually work. The lies about Magic Johnson being affiliated could be a problem at trial though.

Click here to read the article at ABC News.

Feds Begin Targeting “COVID-19 Fraud”

March 24, 2020.

On Sunday, the Department of Justice released a press release announcing its first enforcement action to “combat fraud related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” The federal government filed the action in Austin, TX accusing operators of the website “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” of engaging in wire fraud. The website operators were fraudulently advertising that they had vaccine kits available and charging individuals for the kits through their credit cards. There are no vaccines for the COVID-19 virus currently.

While the government has shut down the website as part of a civil action, this may develop into a criminal prosecution. Regardless, it is a sign that the DOJ will be aggressive in pursuing fraud and other crimes during this pandemic, especially if the pandemic lasts as long as many experts are forecasting.

To read the DOJ’s press release, click here.

To read our firm’s page on wire fraud charges, click here.

 

Atlanta Feds Charge Dozens in $30 Million Money Laundering Operation

The DOJ announced that it has arrested 24 people for their involvement in a large-scale fraud and money laundering operation involving phishing scams, romance fraud scams, and retirement account scams.

The defendants are accused of serving as money launderers for a variety of other individuals who engaged in cyber-enabled fraud. The defendants and their co-conspirators are accused of stealing $30 million through their fraudulent schemes and laundering the proceeds through several shell corporations and bank accounts.

The money laundering conspiracy is being charged separately and is being brought against over twenty defendants. There are two separate but related cases charging other individuals of bank fraud, identity theft, and other offenses. These cases involve over 15 defendants.

Click here to read the DOJ’s press release.

Click here to learn about money laundering charges, their penalties, and the available defenses.

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Published by Pate, Johnson & Church
Contact Tom Church at tom@patejohnson.com with any comments, questions or feedback.

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